The Australian Rugby community is today mourning the loss of former New South Wales and Wallabies prop, Oliver Hall.
‘Ollie’ Hall, the son of a grazier, epitomised all that is good about Country rugby. A strong, likeable loose head prop with a deep love of the game, Hall had a most interesting life. Outside of representing his country in rugby union, Hall was also a farmer, a contractor, a jackeroo, a mining technician and an actor.
Born in the central NSW town of Wellington, Hall was sent to Sydney where he boarded at The King’s School. Hall rowed in the First VIII and was a member of the victorious Head of the River crew which won the Major Rennie Trophy in 1970. He also played lock for the 2nd XV, a side which was co-premier with SJC.
After school Hall returned to his father’s property and played for the Yeoval 2nd XV under the watchful eye of Country great John (`Blue’) Stanbrook. In 1972 he graduated to first grade and won selection in the Central West representative team. A year at a Northern Territory stock station was followed by Hall’s return to Wellington from where he went on to represent Country 2nds, Country U23s and then NSW U23s in the curtain raiser to the 1975 Australia v. England test that came to be known as the ‘Battle of Ballymore’. Hall made Country 1sts in 1976 and was a member of that team which toured the Pacific and North America twelve months later. On the suggestion of Wallaby #523 Ross Turnbull, Hall moved into the front row in 1978 and the following season played his first match against international opposition, in the 7-28 loss to Ireland at Orange.
Two years later he retired from representative football however a chat with Wallaby great Jon White, who said “one day in the future you will wish you had done it”, convinced him to return however it was a move to Sydney’s Manly club in 1982 that genuinely changed Hall’s rugby life. That season he played first grade and was awarded the Chad Paton Trophy for the ‘best clubman’. A year later Hall represented Sydney (v. U.S.A), made his provincial debut for New South Wales in their 7-9 loss to Argentina, played in the Shute Shield premiership winning side coached by the mercurial Alan Jones and finally won selection on the end-of-season Wallaby tour to Italy and France. He debuted for Australia against an Italian Provincial XV at L’Aquila and over the course of the tour played in a total of five uncapped matches.
Unfortunately, his representative career ended the following year due to injury. Playing in an internal match ahead of the Sydney tour to Europe, Hall ruptured both the medial and capsular ligaments in his left knee. Following surgery, and 10 weeks of rehabilitation, Hall returned however in just his third game back a maul collapsed on his right leg and ruptured the medial, capsular and anterior cruciate ligaments. Four surgeries combined to torpedo any hope Hall had of touring with the Eighth Wallabies to the U.K. Jones, now Wallaby coach, told Hall: “Mate, we would have loved taking you but you are not much better than Douglas Bader [the British air ace who lost both his legs] these days.” In 1985 Hall made his big screen debut as Aunty’s Guard, Aunty Entity being played by Tina Turner, in the film ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’. He later played Tiny in three seasons of the TV mini-series ‘Fields of Fire’.
Ollie Hall played five uncapped matches for Australia in a one-year international career.