Scholz Finalist - Cody Melphy
Scholz Finalist - Cody Melphy
Life University is packed with exciting rugby players, but Cody Melphy has turned more heads than most this season.
A finalist for the Rudy Scholz Award as the best male college rugby player in the country, Melphy has been a creator and a finisher for Life's vaunted backline, but perhaps more of a setup artist than anything else. It's a testament to the nomination panel and the voters that they see what he brings to the table.
Melphy began playing rugby as a senior at Heritage HS in Colorado. He had only a couple of months of school to go and overheard some friends talking about starting a rugby team.
"I decided that would be really fun, and since I had never played football and grew up playing soccer my whole life, I wanted something more physical in my life," Melphy said. He might not have played much football, but he had wrestled in high school, and handling the tackles and the rucks came easily to him.
"My earliest influential coaches were Charlie Riley and Ethan Pougnet. Charlie had a vision of greatness and he bestowed that onto all of us. He made us fall in love with rugby and the culture. We had fun, lots of fun," said Melphy. "Ethan Pougnet was the most influential rugby-minded person I knew. He helped me learn the game everyday and gave me the knowledge I needed to excel. We have grown to become great friends and converse very often about rugby and how we can improve. Always bouncing ideas off each other and now we have started our own team out of Colorado. Rocky Mountain Rebels Rugby Academy."
Quickly Melphy has grown from player to a student of the game, and a teacher of the game. He continues to coach, having helped out with the LIttleton Eagles and Colorado School of Mines - both teams where his younger brother, Zach, played.
Cody speaks of Zach - who captained Mines to multiple playoff runs in DII, with pride.
"I am who got Zach involved in rugby, and he is always asking me questions," said Melphy. "He is a great listener and he just wants to be the best that he can be."
Certainly the elder Melphy has some improvements to make - every smart rugby player knows he or she can do something to get better.
"My play at Life University has developed in every aspect - mentally and physically I have become a smarter player and I have become bigger, stronger and faster than I've ever been," he said.
He's learned to read space and develop the basic skills of passing, catching, kicking, and tackling. He takes pride in all of it.
"As a player, Cody brings a good balance of power and skill," said Llife Head Coach Colton Cariaga. "He's aggressive, yet also has the finesse to set himself or his teammates up. Beyond that, Cody's driven and he's a competitor. Whether it's on the field, in the classroom, or working on steps towards a career, he strives to get ahead and I think it rubs off his teammates."
And to improve? Communication. Cariaga moved Melphy to flyhalf, and it has required the Colorado native to talk more. Melphy said that being that communicator has been a challenge, but he's getting there, and so it the team as Life looks for a repeat DIA championship.
"The team is developing well," he said. "We have majority of returners from last years National Championship team and have added a few solid players as well as some freshman are stepping up big for us."
Short-term goals, then include another title. As far as long-term and personal goals, Melphy has several. He's a huge 7s fan - he started playing 7s before he played 15s - and would love to be a part of the Sevens World Series, and he also wants to play at the highest level in 15s.
"My long-term goals are to play for my country," said Melphy. "I have the goals to compete and get capped as an Eagle. I want to play in the Rugby World Cup and I want to win."