Duane Vermeulen has taken to Twitter after Japan’s delayed call-off of the Top League season resulted in him and several other South Africans getting stranded at an airport in Tokyo.


While other leagues around the world decided to suspend or cancel their seasons at an earlier juncture, rugby officials in Japan delayed their announcement until Monday and it resulted in overseas players struggling to make their way home due to the reduction in flights caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  

In a video posted to his social media page, Vermeulen recorded Jesse Kriel, Malcolm Marx and Fred Zeilinga, ex-Springbok coach Allister Coetzee and ex-Bulls and Lions coach Frans Ludeke standing around in the terminal by the Emirates check-in counter.

“Good times finding out our flights are cancelled as we arrive at the check-in counter. Absolutely no support from Emirates. Stuck in Japan indefinitely with my family back home,” wrote Vermeulen, the man of the match in the Springboks’ World Cup final win over England in Yokohama last November.

Emirates Support later contacted him on Twitter. “Hi Duane, please DM us your booking reference and email address. We’ll look into it and get back to you.”

Despite rugby around the globe being quickly cancelled as the scale of the pandemic became apparent, the Japanese Rugby Football Union only decided on Monday to officially cancel the remaining 42 matches of the 2020 season.


That left players from countries such as South Africa in a scramble to return home due to the cancellation of so many long-haul flights.  

Ex-Australian international Matt Giteau was luckier than Vermeulen and co, posting on his Twitter account last Saturday as he made his way home from Japan.

#CoronaCrisis is having a huge impact on air service. No one in the air lounges before the flight. Super grateful to be able to fly back to my family and country,” he tweeted. 


Giteau had posted previously calling on the JRFU to hurry up its decision regarding the Top 14 as he feared getting stuck in Japan and being unable to fly home to family in Australia. 

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