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Welsh Assembly and School of Hard Knocks lock horns

by Gareth Axenderrie

Cardiff’s Arms Park will host a one-off charity match this Saturday as the Welsh Assembly’s rugby team take on TV’s School of Hard Knocks. The game, scheduled to start at 2:30pm with free admission, is part of a fundraising drive by both sides to raise money to support the family of Paul Williams, who featured on Sky Sports’ School of Hard Knocks series in 2015.

Mr. Williams, from the Ely area of Cardiff, died of Ewing sarcoma – a form of bone cancer – on July 8th 2016, just a week after marrying his childhood sweetheart Seren Williams. After appearing on the series which aims to rebuild the lives of individuals who have either fallen into crime, unemployment or despair, Mr. Williams had appeared to get his life back on track.

Williams leaves behind a young daughter named Amelia-Mae, and since his death, the family have been unable to afford a gravestone and whilst funeral payments remain outstanding.

“We had to do something to help”

Dean Cometson, Club Secretary of Welsh Assembly Rugby – the team that represents the Welsh Assembly and Welsh Government – told Gair Rhydd that when the club found out about Mrs. Williams’ struggles, they just had to act.

He’s a local lad who had a tough start to life. When I spoke with Neil Edwards the coach of School of Hard Knocks, I just knew we had to do something to help.

“Our mission statement is to raise money and awareness for charitable causes, whilst promoting the Welsh Assembly, Wales and the beautiful sport of rugby union,” said Cometson.

The initial fundraising target was £3,000, but following a sponsored climb of Pen-y-Fan last month, that amount has now been exceeded.

“The amount raised with pay for the gravestone, cover the costs of the funeral and be put back into the School of Hard Knocks charity,” added Cometson.

Paul Williams at his wedding with other members of the School of Hard Knocks. Source SOHK (via Facebook)

What is School of Hard Knocks?

School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) is a social inclusion charity which runs courses that use sport to tackle the issues surrounding unemployment, antisocial behaviour and crime.

Since its inception in 2012, SOHK has seen 79% of adults that get a job through SOHK sustain it in the long term, whilst 94% of pupils on SOHK for Schools avoid permanent exclusion and complete their education.

The charity followed on from Sky Sports’ hit TV show of the same name that featured the likes of former Lions internationals Scott Quinnell and Will Greenwood.

How can I get involved?

Saturday’s match is completely free to attend, with kick off scheduled for 2:30pm. Both sides are fielding strong teams, and it is anticipated that it will be a close encounter.

You can also donate to the cause at