OXFORDSHIRE rugby is mourning the death of one of its greatest servants.

Pat Hall, who died aged 80 on New Year’s Day, gave his time to the county game for more than half a century and was one of Witney’s founding members in the 1960s.

He went on to become president of Oxfordshire RFU and held the same role at Hailey Road in recent years.

As a player, referee and committee member, the stalwart was often at the forefront as the community game underwent great change.

Hall did this in a selfless way, as Oxfordshire RFU council representative Rob Walsh explained.

He said: “Pat was a great guy and a great servant to Oxfordshire rugby.

“Witney should be very proud of him, he just didn’t stop working.

“He had a massive impact on the game in Oxfordshire.

“Pat was a rugby person, that’s all you can say.

“Some people do it for their own motivations, but he did it for the game.”

Hall was president of Oxfordshire RFU from 1989 to 1991 and began a seven-year spell as county secretary in 1994.

But he was also one of the most influential figures in Witney’s history, joining as a player when the club was reformed in 1965.

He later held the role of chairman from 1974 to 1986 and became president in 2009.

Across several decades, Hall helped Witney improve their infrastructure and grow membership to about 650 people.

Much of this was done with long-time ally and current president Danny Crump, who came to Witney in 1985.

He said: "One of the first people to give me a very warm welcome was Pat and he persuaded me to join the committee.

"Six to nine months later, he was stepping down as chairman to go to the county and we had a long conversation.

"He persuaded me to become chairman, even though I'd only been there a year."

Crump ended up spending 30 years in the role and worked closely with Hall, even during the latter's time with Oxfordshire RFU.

He added: "Pat was an absolute cornerstone of the club - even when he went off to the county he would still attend all of the committee meetings at Witney.

"When he was president we worked as a joint front. I remember someone once described us as 'chalk and cheese but get the job done'.

"He was a pleasure to work with and I have a lot of respect for him.

"He'll be missed by everyone at Witney rugby club."

Andy Merriman, now third-team coach and a committee member, joined the club in 1996 and coached the club’s minis and juniors for several years.

“Him and Danny were like Batman and Robin in driving the club forwards,” he said.

“Pat was a driving force for improving the facilities and teaching everybody, especially the minis and juniors, what the game was about.

“You’ve got young people going through huge changes in their lives and playing an aggressive game, and Pat dealt with that in a way that was before his time.

“He was always a confidant that would give you great advice when you needed it.”

Alongside these commitments, Hall was a long-serving referee.

“I had the pleasure of being refereed by him on numerous occasions,” Walsh added.

“Pat ruled with a rod of iron, but he was always fair.”