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The trials and tribulations of 18 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira who are using rugby to transform their lives has gone to air on Sky TV.

The School of Hard Knocks (SOHK), which started its second season on Tuesday follows the young tauira from the Māngere campus.

The programme highlights the challenges the youth face in their everyday lives as they work towards their NCEA Level 2 fitness qualification while receiving expert coaching and mentoring advice from the likes of Sir John Kirwan and rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams.

Sports and Youth education manager Desiree Wallace, who is facilitating the initiative on behalf of the wānanga, says the class involved in SOHK was filmed over 12 weeks to document their journey in class, at the gym and, of course, on the rugby field.

"School of Hard Knocks and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa have the same vision to help disadvantaged youth who have faced difficult challenges in life," she said.

"We both want to steer students in the right direction by using sport and other challenging activities to enable them to take positive steps forward in their lives."

SOHK is the idea of Ken Cowen who founded the charity in the United Kingdom in 2007 to help thousands of vulnerable members of society tackle issues with unemployment, crime and poor health by using rugby and other fitness courses to deliver powerful life lessons.

During this time, SOHK has grown and now runs around 50 courses a year throughout the UK.

Secondary schools have also introduced SOHK into their curriculum as a preventative measure for youth as young as 12, who have already been identified as at-risk from being excluded from school.

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