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Ron Jacobs

Ron Jacobs

Years: 1949-1966
Position: Prop
Appearances: 470 (club record)
England caps: 29

Ron Jacobs holds Northampton Saints' record for club appearances, and as professional rugby becomes ever physical his tally of 470 games over 17 years looks less likely to ever be beaten. In addition to this feat - all the more remarkable considering his position of tight-head prop - and 19 tries, he was twice named as club captain, firstly between 1959-61 and also in his last season of 1965/66.

Decades before the introduction of health and nutrition plans, Jacobs maintained a spectacular level of fitness thanks to his work as a farmer. But his Saints career might never have been as Leicester and Bedford were also potential homes for the agriculture graduate fresh from Nottingham University.

During his studies Jacobs had played for Peterborough, former home of fellow Saints prop Mike Berridge. Whether this played any part in his decision is uncertain, but thankfully he opted for Franklin's Gardens and after 16 matches in his first season of 1949/50 Jacobs - who hailed from Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire - became a first-team regular.

Like so many Saints of the 1950s, Jacobs (nicknamed 'Badger') had a distinguished representative career. His second year at the club was augmented by selection for the East Midlands County Championship-winning side of 1951. Jacobs also played for the Barbarians regularly and was on the invitation side's first overseas tour to Canada in 1957; a trip during which he fractured his hip - an injury that never really went away.

This recognition came at the end of Jacobs' first international season in which he debuted for England against Wales at Twickenham. 28 caps would follow, and with his country he would win the Grand Slam in 1957 (England's first since 1928), the Championship in 1958 and the Triple Crown and Calcutta Cup in 1960. His last international campaign in 1963/64 coincided with his only match as England captain - a 6-3 win over France in Paris.

After retirement Jacobs continued to play a full part in rugby life. He became president of Northampton, the East Midlands twice - including the union's centenary season - and the Rugby Football Union in 1983/84.

His name lives on at Franklin's Gardens on the brass plaque in the players' tunnel. Unfortunately he could not attend the official opening of the Church's Stand due to illness, and he passed away in his birthplace of Whittlesey in November 2002.