Belfast Telegraph

Cecil Pedlow, Irish and Lions rugby star who also excelled at squash and tennis

By Rod Nawn

One of the most versatile and colourful figures in Irish sport, Cecil Pedlow, has died at the age of 85.

Although he is perhaps most widely known for his achievements as an Ireland and Lions three-quarter of remarkable deftness and speed, Pedlow  was an athlete who excelled in tennis, squash and in hockey, and somehow managed to juggle a full sporting life with a successful dental practice in Belfast.

Born in Lurgan, Cecil was educated at Campbell College, Belfast, where legend is that while starring in the school's hockey side he was called into rugby action and became an instant success at representative level.

He studied dentistry at Queen's University and it was there that, notwithstanding his obligations as an Irish squash international and successful tennis player, he caught the eye of first the Ulster and then the Irish rugby selectors.

He won the first of his 30 Ireland caps as a centre or wing as a 20-year-old against Wales in Cardiff.

He quickly established himself as a regular in the national side, and when he continued his club career at CIYMS the famously bespectacled Pedlow added further lustre to his sporting CV with a plethora of successes in his first love, tennis, and also in squash.

His brother Des was capped by Ulster at scrum-half, Peter, the eldest, was a record-breaking swimmer and distinguished surgeon, while another sibling, Ken, was a top-class amateur golfer and leading accountant.

Cecil maintained his family's high-achieving reputation with his rugby exploits at club, provincial and international level.

The highlight of his career was his selection for the Lions party which toured South Africa in 1955, skippered by another Ulsterman, the youthful Robin Thompson.

In the first Test against a vintage Springboks Pedlow scored a try which the Welsh out-half Cliff Morgan, one of the sport's most famous figures, described as one of the finest he had ever witnessed.

The series was tied 2-2, Pedlow playing in two Tests, and he was again invited to tour with the Lions in 1959. But given his prodigious workload and packed sporting schedule he reluctantly declined.

Married to Kay and settled in Belfast, his commitments were vast but his passion for sport never diminished, and his characteristic good humour and his compelling yarns from a live fully-lived entertained more than a few generations.

Pedlow went on to represent Ireland at squash six times, and at Over-45 level he was Irish champion for seven successive years, a period in which he remarkably never lost a match. He replicated his Irish championship wins at Over-55 level, and represented his country in various championships around the world.

Cecil Pedlow could have won other titles for his talents as a raconteur, and his love of a good joke and tall story was only matched by that for his family and for many friends across a spectacularly wide professional and sporting career.

In 2017 he was inducted into Queen's Rugby Club's Robbie Moore Hall of Fame.

Of Cecil Pedlow it can be truly said: "We will never see his like again."

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