The Student News Site of Cathedral High School | Indianapolis, Indiana

Irish Connection

The Student News Site of Cathedral High School | Indianapolis, Indiana

Irish Connection

The Student News Site of Cathedral High School | Indianapolis, Indiana

Irish Connection

How the Royal Irish came to be

A sit down with Head Coach Terry Rankin and team captain Luke Peters to talk about Royal Irish and what to expect for next season.
Lacey Nix
Royal Irish take down Saint Louis High School. (Mo.) Senior Nate Meyer was awarded man of the match after his stellar performance. *Photo from

When outsiders think of Cathedral High School, they might think of us as always having football and basketball teams competing for state titles and forget about one sport that Cathedral is truly a powerhouse in. That sport is rugby. Cathedral is a part of the Royal Irish rugby society, which is a combination of Chatard and Cathedral. Terry Rankin, Head Coach, sat down with me and we talked about the history of the program and future plans.

Terry Rankin, Tom Verplank, and Garrett Verplank founded the Northside Raiders in 1990 which was a North Central based rugby program. There were other schools involved but it was mainly kids from North Central. At this point in time there are only 3 other rugby programs in the state. Terry’s goal was to always grow the game of rugby and spread his knowledge to others who wanted to help grow the sport. He then teamed up with Tom Verplank to make a rugby program for Broad Ripple high school called the Wellington Rugby Program. Terry had success with that program for many years. Garrett Verplank went his own way and combined Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) and Cathedral schools to officially create the Royal Irish Society in 1998. Later on HSE branched off and built their own program so Cathedral made the decision to team up with rival high school, Bishop Chatard.

Terry ended up going in a different direction in his career and coached his son from third to eighth grade. “As a father it was always a dream to coach my son”, Terry says.

Head Coach Terry Rankin walking to the sidelines after getting the team ready for the first game of the season against St. Ignatius. (OH.)
*Photo from (Lacey Nix)

“As a coach, those years will forever be my favorite years of coaching, being able to coach and mentor my son is what being a father is all about.” In 2012, Terry went on to be the head coach for the Royal Irish Rugby program and led the team to a National Championship. He goes on to explain, “without the help of the coaching staff and the players’ drive to win, it wouldn’t have been possible.” With Terry as head coach, the program has won four national championships and since its inception they have won the Indiana state championship 13 times. Terry told me this is not the best part of his job, “the club’s motto is teaching boys to become gentlemen through the sport of rugby and my favorite thing as a coach is watching that motto come true in every rugby player that comes through this program.” Recently the club was awarded as the National Rugby Program of the Decade which Terry takes huge pride in.

Last season was a down year for the club. The team went 2-7, the worst team Terry has been a part of by a long shot. “The key to this year’s success is up to the seniors, we need them to be recruiting kids to join the program to rebuild its image.” The team only had 23 players last season which was the smallest team Terry has been a part of.

Captain Luke Peters during the Royal Irish fall 7’s season. Luke later went on to win best player of the tournament.
*Photo from (Lacey Nix)

Current senior and captain of the team, Luke Peters, had similar things to say about this year. The All State 10-Back said, “It’s up to us, if we want to have a bounce back year we know we can have. The seniors need to be leaders and talk to other kids about giving the sport a try.” More than anything, Luke wants the state title. “Adding the fourteenth title in my final season would mean the world to me. I want to show the alumni that me and the guys have what it takes to rebuild the image of this program.” With those expectations in mind, it is sure to be big year from the Royal Irish this spring as they chase the State Title.

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Joseph Crisp, Reporter

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    Mary Beth AdamsSep 5, 2023 at 10:04 PM

    Great article!! I did not know the history of Irish Rugby. I’m sure the team will have a very successful season with such great Senior leadership!!!