When Rufus Hall died earlier this month, aged 93, Tynedale RFC lost one of their oldest ex-players.

A huge, powerful man, Rufus played almost anywhere in the forwards, and represented the club for more than 20 years. Latterly he was captain of the 3rd XV, where he took great pride in encouraging, and protecting, junior players.

Rufus was also the longest serving member of Hexham’s Albert Edward Club, for almost 70 years, having joined the club in his early 20s.

One such player was a 15-year-old, now late, Ken Docking, and there was forged a bond of close friendship that would last for over 65 years.

Rufus and Ken’s memorial seats in the stand at Tynedale are right next to each other.

Rufus’s love of rugby went beyond the field of play. He keenly embraced the social aspect of the game. He had strong ties with many clubs across the north, in particular at Northern and Ryton. He was honoured to be the first Tynedale player to be invited to turn out for Northern Gypsies; and was indeed asked to join Northern, but his loyalty always lay with Tyne.

Rufus began his rugby career at Ryton when he was 17. Despite his move to Tynedale he maintained lifelong links with Ryton. It pleased him greatly that his two nephews Malcolm (Ryton) and Peter Henderson (Tynedale) followed him into the game. But it was the rugby career of his son Jonathan that really meant a great deal to him.

Jonathan’s career saw him play at Headingley, Esher, Bedford and latterly Old Verulians in St Albans. The proudest moments for his dad, however, came when Jonathan donned the blue and white hoops to play for Tynedale for periods in the late 80s and early 90s. For Rufus, this was Jonathan’s destiny, from when he was a toddler and they would chase the ball around the old ground at Dene Park together.

In the 1970s, it was Rufus and his friend, Felix Mark, who put the proposal to the committee for Tynedale to move from the old ground at Dene Park in Hexham, to Tynedale Park in Corbridge. When the move was fulfilled he took great pride in being a key figure to mark out the pitches at Tyne’s new home.

Later when the new stand was opened by old adversary Danie Serfontein, the then president of the RFU Northern region, it tickled Rufus greatly that Darnie included him in a roll call of characters he had enjoyed sparring against when playing against Tynedale in his younger days.

When his playing days were behind him Rufus turned to refereeing. The pinnacle of his refereeing achievements was being invited to referee the final at the Isle of Man Sevens. This is an honour that Rufus was humbled by, and he was very proud of the trust placed in him to take charge of such a fixture.

Rufus’s late wife, Helen, was also a respected figure at Tynedale. When their children were small, the couple spent most weekends at Tynedale with Lindsay and Jonathan running around the grounds with other Tynedale kids. Helen was always grateful to the club for giving them a social outlet as a family, and for this reason she did rugby teas every season well in to her seventh decade.

She felt that it was the least she could do to give back to the club that had brought so much pleasure and friendship to her family.

Rufus’s lasting love of the game of rugby manifested itself in his friendships throughout Tynedale, the North-East and across the world. He leaves his daughter, Lindsay, son, Jonathan and granddaughters Monique and Danielle.

His legacies to them are the family friends and clan-ships all well known at Tynedale and in the North-East rugby community over the years: the Dockings, Clarkes, the Davidsons, the Littles, the Stonehouses, the Gardiners, the Jacks and the Ludbrooks.

In the words of ex Tynedale kiwi player, Matt Ludbrook: “In New Zealand we call a giant of a man like Rufus a Kauri tree. If ever I met one he is it.”

Rufus wished to thank his friends for their company and to know that he had enjoyed his annual birthday bashes since his 90th so much that when circumstances allow there will be a memorial birthday bash to celebrate his life.