Toyota Verblitz could face expulsion from the Japanese Top League after two of the club’s players were arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine.
Verblitz duo Ryota Kabashima (flyhalf) and Steven Yates (wing) were arrested within a week of each other.
The 35-year-old Yates admitted guilt after police found a small amount of cocaine in a plastic bag in his home in Nagoya in central Japan.
Kabashima was arrested after one gram of cocaine was discovered in his wallet, which he left in a taxi. The taxi driver handed the wallet over to the police, who then identified Kabashima from his driver’s license. But the 28-year-old has denied the charges, saying he doesn’t remember anything.
The violation of the narcotics control law in Japan means that the Top League would be within their right to expel Verblitz. The club itself has the decided to withdraw from all competitions.
According to Kyodo News, the Toyota Corporation – which owns club – has suspended the team’s operations for the time being and released a statement to apologise to the Japanese public.
‘We sincerely apologise for the continued arrests of our team members. We deeply regret that we have caused trouble at a time when Japan will soon host the Rugby World Cup,’ the statement read.
Jake White is the head coach of Verblitz, while Gert Smal is one of the assistant coaches. The club also has Jason Jenkins, Reniel Hugo, Carl Wegner, Lionel Cronjé, Clinton Swart and Gio Aplon on its books.
International duo Willie le Roux and Kieran Read are also set to join the club after the World Cup.
Photo: Getty Images/Kyodo