Japan Rugby has suspended the Top League for three weeks following the arrest of a Hino Red Dolphins player for drug use. 

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This follows a two week hiatus that the league has had due to the coronavirus outbreak, and Japan Rugby have announced that “the league will undergo a full investigation and aims to restore the public’s faith in rugby’s core values.”

The player in question is reported to be Kiwi Joel Everson for alleged cocaine use, and a statement released by the league said that there will now be a process of education. 

“Recently, a Hino Red Dolphins player was arrested for allegedly using illegal drugs, and Hino Red Dolphins has decided to refrain from conducting any further activities indefinitely. Based on that, the Japan Rugby Top League is currently holding the Japan Rugby Top League 2020,” the statement read.

“We sincerely apologise to all rugby fans across Japan for the disappointment.

“The fact that there have been arrests for illegal drug use across multiple teams is not only a Top League problem, but also a major problem shaking the existence of the Japanese rugby world, and it is considered an emergency.

“We have worked together with all the Top League teams to prevent recurrence, including assigning integrity officers to each team, but we have to say that was insufficient,” the statement continued.

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“We believe that we have betrayed our fans and society, and we need to work diligently to restore trust, and we need to take even more advanced measures.

“Rugby competition consists of five core values: dignity, passion, unity, discipline, and respect. If any one of these is missing, it’s not rugby. This incident conflicts with most of the core values and in order to become a league worthy of the name of Japan’s peak, we will again pursue improvement in each team’s integrity before we resume Top League 2020.”

This is not the first time that such an incident has occurred in rugby, but this extreme response is one that has not been seen in the modern era, and shows the integrity that Japanese rugby has. 

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