Great Britain Legends: Jim Bacon

Bacon can be seen on the second row, second from the right.

To complete this year’s tour down under, Great Britain will play Papua New Guinea in the final match at Port Moresby as part of a double header which sees England Women take on the PNG Orchids.

Since the tour began, we have been looking back at past legends that have worn the GB strip and for our penultimate player, it is outside back Jim Bacon.

Bacon was first announced in the Northern Union squad to play for the Ashes down under in 1920. He was one of seven starters at the Exhibition Ground in Brisbane in what turned out to be one of the fiercest clashes with the Kangaroos. The home side won the game 8-4, with the referee awarding 39 penalties throughout the 80 minutes. After the green and gold claimed the series in Sydney with a 21-8 victory, Bacon waited until the third and final match to score his first try for the national side, helping the visitors to a 23-13 win.

A tour of New Zealand followed swiftly but this time the Northern Union wouldn’t walk away empty handed. Moving between centre and wing, Bacon was on the scoresheet in every game for Great Britain, helping the tourists to a 2-1 series victory, which they claimed with a 11-10 win in Wellington.

Back on home soil in 1921, Bacon ran out for the first time at Headingley as a Lion for the first test match in England for nearly ten years. Another point result against the Kangaroos set the home side in good stead for the competition and despite losing the second test in Hull, Frank Gallagher would win the series; the loose forward crossing for the only try in Salford.

Bacon missed that series clincher in 1922 and also remained out of the squad for the first two matches against the Kangaroos down under in 1924. With the series already won, the centre was back in the squad for the third and final test, which the home side won 21-11.

He was unselected for the concurrent test series against New Zealand in 1924 and also missed the 1926 test matches in Wigan and Hull. For the final test at Headingley, Bacon ran for the final time in white, blue and red notably on his home ground, Headingley. It was the perfect stage for the outside back to finish his time with the national side; scoring twice to help Great Britain seal a 3-0 series whitewash over the Kiwis.