On the pitch, Saracens have become one of the giants of European rugby. Off it, they are using their powerful platform to prepare prisoners for life after release.

The three-time European champions have taken their Get Onside programme to The Mount prison, near London, which holds about 1,000 inmates.

The club were pointed in the direction of the category C jail by former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, who launched his Twinning Project in 2018.

That project’s objective is to twin every prison in England and Wales with a local professional football club to improve prisoners’ wellbeing and give them a qualification.

AFP was granted rare access to The Mount to talk to those tasked with putting the men through their paces on the rugby pitch.

At the time of the visit, a total of 30 prisoners were signed up — after security clearance — for the eight-week course, which was due to climax in a match that eventually had to be scrapped because of a coronavirus lockdown.

Inmates are at the prison for offences ranging from theft to murder — the only two categories of prisoner not admitted are those convicted of terrorism and sex offences.

 

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