Exclusive by Mark Janzen
At the very end, you can hear Cody Melphy’s wife gasp. Indeed, the moment was worthy of such a reaction – partly shocked and partly downright impressed.
More than 20,000 views and an additional 800 Instagram followers later and Melphy – a capped member of USA’s rugby Sevens program – has become a bit of social media legend.
“I was just seeing the Bottle Cap Challenge all over the internet and people doing the kicks,” Melphy tells Ædelhard just three days after first posting the video that has now gone viral. “I’m not much of a fighter, so I thought I’d put my own twist on it and use a rugby ball and it worked out.”
You probably know the viral fad. If not, search Bottle Cap Challenge. Started by a Kazakhstani Taekwondo superstar Master Fa (as he’s known on Instagram), it’s a simple idea in its original concept: kick the cap off a bottle. It’s not so simple in its execution.
So, Melphy, who played in three tournaments on the World Rugby Sevens Series in 2017-18 – including helping USA win in Las Vegas – and has been largely captaining the USA Falcons this year, had an idea to join the fray but in a different way.
His first idea was to do this whole thing with a rugby ball inside his home in Chula Vista, California. His wife, Payton, wisely suggested this wasn’t the best idea. Come ‘on Cody.
A dog park just down the road was more suitable. The bottle was placed on a trash can. Payton got behind the camera and Melphy – wearing his USA “Dawgs” jersey, which is given to each men’s sevens player upon making their debut on the series – went to work.
It didn’t take him long. First try, right? Maybe. That’s “take it to the grave” sort of information.
From there, the Internet took over.
Based on rugby’s biggest social media accounts, including World Rugby’s official account – and Clondalkin RFC’s Twitter account (despite Melphy having no connection to the Dublin, Ireland-based club) which helped to blow the whole thing up – the video now has more than one million views.
The biggest high five surely would be when World Rugby put its stamp of approval on it, with the caption, “#BottleCapChallenge: Completed Take a bow Cody Melphy! 👏.”
So, who is Melphy?
He’s from Littleton, Colorado. A few years after graduating from Heritage High School in 2011, he turned his attention to collegiate rugby, becoming a four-time All-American, including Sevens and 15s at Life University.
He joined the USA Sevens program after graduating from Life University in 2017 and then joined the army that fall as part of the World Class Athlete Program. He then made his debut with the Eagles in Las Vegas. He followed that up by getting selected to play in Vancouver and Singapore.
This year, he’s captained the USA Falcons development side throughout much of the season. In fact, in a few short weeks, he’ll captain USA at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru (July 27-28).
All this and, like so many American rugby stars, the dude didn’t even start playing rugby until he was in Grade 12.
“I had really good coaches in my first year and they just made the culture something that I’d never been around,” say Melphy, who grew up playing soccer. “The camaraderie and culture was so good. I was hooked.”
In 2013, as a livewire 19-year-old, he joined the rushing fans who rushed the field at Sam Boyd Stadium after South Africa won the USA Sevens tournament in Las Vegas.
“Five years later, I was the one giving out the high fives and getting tackled by people storming the field.”
So, what’s next for the internet sensation?
“The No. 1 dream is to not only make it to the Olympics, but to win a medal,” says Melphy, who has also made three appearances with the San Diego Legion of Major League Rugby.
“(Then), for the next 15 years I want to be playing rugby at the highest level I can.”
As for bottle caps and rugby balls?
Well, guess what?!? Melphy might not be done!
“Maybe something behind the back or a lineout or lefty or something like that.”
You can find the clip almost anywhere or watch it here. It really is something to behold and the best bottle cap challenge yet: