Hall, Arthur "Tart"

Arthur “Tart” Hall was a legendary tough and versatile player from the Forest of Dean who won an England trial and a County Championship Winners medal at half back before the 1914-1918 war. After the war he moved into the pack and won himself a further England trial and three more County Championship Winners medals. He played for Cinderford and Bristol before joining Gloucester, where he made 227 appearances, the last at the age of 41. At the time of his retirement, his 43 caps for Gloucestershire had been exceeded only by Frank Stout.

Arthur Hall was born in Ruspidge in the Forest of Dean in 1886. His father Thomas was a coal miner who had worked in the Yorkshire coalfields. On leaving school, Arthur joined him at the coalface.

Arthur played his first rugby for the local village side Ruspidge before joining Cinderford RFC. Cinderford had a very strong fixture list at the time and his uncompromising play brought him to the attention of both the county and England selectors. He partnered the great Adrian Stoop at half back for England against the South in a 1911 England trial and played for Gloucestershire against the touring South Africans the following year. He moved from Cinderford to Bristol early in the 1912-13 season and won his first County Championship Winners medal for Gloucestershire in the final against Cumberland that year. In January 1913 he played for Bristol against Gloucester at the County Ground Bristol. The Bristol Times and Mirror said “At half back Hall was an outstanding figure for Bristol. In defence he was great and continually breaking up the movement of the Gloucester backs.”

Wishing to return to play his rugby nearer his home in the north of the county, Hall offered his services to Gloucester in a letter to the committee in September 1913. Gloucester checked with Cinderford “who had first claim on him” and he moved straight into the first team, where he resumed his partnership with J Baker, his county colleague at half back. His travel to play for Bristol and Gloucestershire must have placed a great strain on his limited resources. Bill Bailey (“WB”) wrote in the Gloucester Citizen at the time of Hall’s retirement: “What sacrifices he made in time and money to play for Gloucester and other clubs is known only to himself; it was the hardest matter imaginable to get “Tart” (as he is familiarly known to his football friends) to make out his expenses.”

After the 1914-18 war, Tart Hall rejoined Gloucester. At the age of 33, he moved into the pack, where he was to play for a further 9 seasons and 200 games.

He went on to win a second England trial (for the South against England in 1920) and to win three more County Championship Winners medals against Yorkshire (1920), Leicestershire (1921) and North Midlands (1922).

In his last full season 1924-25, Hall played in Gloucester’s 23-16 defeat of OxfordUniversity – “one of the most thrilling matches ever witnessed” at Kingsholm. He was singled out for praise “for his work in the lines-out and open” and “several of his dashes were reminiscent of his best days.” He also played in the 50th Jubilee match against the RFU President’s XV. He was 38 and announced his retirement at the end of that season. He still came back to play a number of games over the next three years; his last game was at the age of 41.  WB again: “Hall played rugby solely for the love of the game, and a keener enthusiast never stepped on the playing field….. (He was) one of the old brigade who has done so much to keep Gloucester in the front rank of Rugby Union clubs in the country…. Hall has had a wonderful career, and a more popular player has never donned a Gloucester jersey.”

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