Like most rugby competitions around the globe, the Top League has endured a tumultuous season thanks primarily to the coronavirus pandemic – but that’s not been the only cause of disruption.

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Rounds 7 and 8 of Japan’s premier rugby league, spanning from the 29th of February to the 8th of March, were called off due to uncertainties about coronavirus.

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While the competition was set to resume in mid-March, it was again suspended for a further three weeks – supposedly due to a positive drug test completed by Hino Red Dolphins player Joel Everson.

Everson’s arrest prompted the Dolphins to immediately cancel their remaining fixtures.

The Top League justified the break as an opportunity to undertake “thorough compliance education” throughout all the clubs.

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The league has also used the time to carry out drug testing on a significant proportion of the players.

Earlier this week, the Top League announced that 692 players have already been tested with zero indication of any drug use. There are still players that are yet to be tested for a variety of reasons.

Regardless of the results and how effective the league’s ‘compliance education’ has been, the competition has been cancelled for 2020 due to coronavirus.

There’s still hope that a finals series will be contested in May between the top four ranked teams (Panasonic Wild Knights, Kobe Steel, Yamaha Jubilo and Suntory Sungoloath) but, given that the July Olympics has already been called off, it’s difficult to imagine this playing out.

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