A prop, Hardwick started his senior career with his home town club Coventry. The 1996-97 season, would be Coventry's most successful of the modern era, coming within touching distance of the Premiership. Along the way, with Hardwick as Captain, they beat a Newcastle Falcons side featuring 15 internationals by 19-18 at Coundon Road. They would eventually finish third behind the well- funded Newcastle and champions Richmond but lost a promotion play-off against London Irish despite taking a narrow first leg advantage to Sunbury. Despite their second-tier status, both Hardwick and Danny Grewcock were capped by England in this era.
He went on to play 167 games for London Irish where he was part of the team that won the Powergen Cup (LV=Cup) in 2002. He also spent one season in France playing for La Rochelle, making 27 appearances for them.
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