Alexander Cecil Pedlow (20 January 1934 – 9 November 2019) was an Irish rugby union player, particularly remembered for his tenure with the British Lions. He represented Ireland 30 times and the British Lions, earning two caps for them on the 1955 tour to South Africa. He retired in 1963.
Arguably, one of Irelands greatest all-round sportsmen. Pedlows great-uncle James Cecil Parke, was another all-time Irish great. Pedlows grandfather, Robert Pedlow and great grandfather Joseph Pedlow were also Irish rugby internationals.
Current Ireland international contender fly-half Paddy Jackson is closely related- Ray Lindsay (grandfather to Paddy and brother to Cecils wife-Kay).
Pedlow was born in Lurgan on the 20 January 1934. His father Robert was a country doctor in Lurgan and a keen sportsman, playing rugby for Lurgan RFC.
Cecil Pedlow represented Ireland at squash, rugby and controversially missed out on representing Ireland in the Davis Cup at tennis. He did go on to represent Irish tennis at veteran and vintage representative levels and won numerous titles all over Ireland.
Pedlow had already represented Ireland (junior level) at Junior Wimbledon after winning the u-18 title at the All-Ireland Tennis Championships at Fitzwilliam Tennis Club (Dublin) in 1952, aged 17. Pedlow was sent a telegram from the ILTA stating that he had been picked to represent Ireland at Wimbledon and that the ITLA would pay for his fare (second class) to represent his country at Junior Wimbledon. Pedlow went out in the second round (after getting a bye in the first!) to a talented French junior. Pedlow later arranged to meet his victor at the French Championships at Roland Garros in 2004.
Tennis might have been Pedlows favourite sport but it was rugby that made his sporting name.
Pedlow showed early promise at other sports including hockey and cricket. He was educated at Garth House (A Campbell College Prep- School) and then attended Ulsters only private school, Campbell College when he was 11 and became a full-time border. His skills as a medium-quick cricketing bowler soon became apparent when he took 10 wickets as an 11-year-old playing for the senior first XI. This was Pedlows first game representing his school with 17-year-olds. Pedlow later said about his 10 wicket debut I thought that I was going to be a great cricketer but unfortunately the truth was the older boys just hadnt worked me out, yet- Sadly, I never got close to those figures again.
Pedlows first sporting achievements started off at Campbell College playing hockey and enjoying the bat ball philosophy behind the game. It was the legendary Campbell College rugby coach, Bobby Mitchell, who sent the message over to the hockey pitches Tell Pedlow to get over here-hes playing rugby.
Under Mitchells expert tutelage, Pedlow went on to represent Ulster Schools and played a pivotal part in two Ulster Schools Cup finals campaigns, winning one and losing one. Pedlow had three brothers- Peter, Ken and Des- who all played in Ulster Schools Cup finals.
The eldest of the Pedlow brothers, Peter, went on to become an outstanding Irish swimming champion. He held the Irish butterfly-stroke record for 7 years. Peter was also a highly respected consultant gynaecologist and was credited with introducing the dolphin stroke into Irish swimming at the time. Other leading Irish swimmers were still using the less effective screw-kick technique at the time which enabled Peter to enjoy unprecedented success and win five all-Irish butterfly championships.
Youngest brother, Des, a Lurgan dentist, was capped for Ulster at scrum-half and remains a keen tennis player. Middle brother Ken, a highly respected Belfast accountant, was a talented scratch golfer and entertaining raconteur.
After Campbell College, Pedlow moved from east to south Belfast to attend Queens University Belfast and studied dentistry. Queens provided the career platform to further his professional and sporting career.
Pedlow played for the university freshers in his first year but his strength, speed and footballing talent soon propelled him towards provincial and national honours and the provincial/international selectors began to take notice. Pedlow was a fierce tackler and despite relatively poor eyesight, this did not prove to be major hindrance in his sporting career. Indeed, early on in his international career, in a game against Scotland, the opposition had heard rumours about his questionable eyesight and peppered his wing with huge Garyowens all afternoon. Luckily, it was a beautiful day in Edinburgh, said Pedlow,and I caught every high ball and played one of my best games in an Ireland shirt that day.
Pedlows first cap was against Wales at the Cardiff Arms Parkin the 1954–55 season in which Ireland lost 6–3.
According to Pedlow The game was a bit dull and I found myself with the ball with a chance to drop-kick-it was my first cap but I decided to go for it-I hit it. Bang. It sliced to the right wing miles away. It was very embarrassing but it ended up at the touchline corner-flag and we scored- I was extremely lucky as I got picked again.
Further international recognition followed and Pedlow established himself as the leading centre/wing for Ireland over the next eight years. Pedlow finished his career with 30 Irish caps (One more than Cliff Morgan and Tony OReilly-he quipped) and two Lions caps.
Pedlow reached the zenith of his career in 1955 when he was selected for the historic tour to South Africa for the British Lions. The tour was managed and captained by fellow Ulstermen Jack Siggins Robin Thompson Its ironic that Pedlows favourite sport was tennis when he managed to finish off one of the most iconic tries of all time in the history of Rugby Union.
The legendary Welsh out-half Cliff Morgan put it very simply when describing his five favourite times of all time. Morgan didnt want to differentiate between his favourite tries and rank them 1–5 but undoubtedly Pedlows try in the first test in Johannesburg, in front of 110,000 people, remained a special memory for him. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2394909/My-favourite-tries.html
The story goes that Nelson Mandela was present at Ellis Park that day, cheering on the Lions, of course.
Pedlow played in the first and fourth tests on the 1955 tour and if the statistics include the Rhodesian (as it was then) leg of the tour, he ended up as top points scorer as he was also a talented goal kicker. The test series finished in a 2–2 which was seen as an excellent result as away series victories were extremely rare against the South Africa Springboks. Pedlow kept a detailed diary of the whole tour and this dairy was referenced in Stewart McKinneys book Pedlows last cap for Ireland was against France but he was asked if he was available to play for the subsequent British Lions tour of New Zealand in 1959 but he turned down the invitation due to work and personal commitments.
Pedlow went on to represent Ireland at squash six times and won various tournaments all over Ireland. He also went on to represent Ireland again at veteran age level(over 45) and was the Irish Champion for seven successive years during which he remained unbeaten and did not lose a single match.
At vintage level (over 55),once again, he became all-Ireland champion and represented Ireland in various international championships.
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