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Another Top League cocaine bust

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New Zealander becomes second Verblitz player arrested for cocaine possession

World Cup hosts Japan have been hit by a second drugs scandal involving the Jake White-coached Toyota Verblitz. It was last week when it emerged that fly-half Ryota Kabashima has been arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine, forcing the team to be withdrawn from the Top League Cup.

Now it has been reported by Kyodo News that New Zealand-born Steven Yates was arrested Thursday on suspicion of also possessing cocaine. The 35-year-old, who gained Japanese nationality in 2015, admitted to possession of a small amount of cocaine found in a plastic bag at his home in Nagoya.

A Toyota club statement said: “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.”

Coached by White, South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning boss, Verblitz had been scheduled to face Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars at Iwagin Stadium in Iwate Prefecture last Sunday in their first group stage match. However, Toyota reacted to the arrest of Kabashima by suspending the team’s operations.

Cocaine was discovered in Kabashima’s wallet after he left it in a taxi on April 10 while visiting Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. The taxi driver handed in the wallet two days later, and police identified the wallet from Kabashima’s driver’s licence. Kabashima has denied the charges, saying he “doesn’t remember”.

The 28-year-old is an employee of Toyota Motor Corp and is suspected of violating the narcotics control law over the alleged possession of about one gram of cocaine, according to Aichi Prefectural Police.

Toyota finished fourth last season in the Japan Top League and while it is globally rare for an entire team to be suspended for the alleged misdemeanours of individuals, the culture is different in Japan. 

Ten years ago, Tongan-born winger Christian Loamanu tested positive for marijuana which resulted in Toshiba Brave Lupus withdrawing from a tournament.

WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what fans can expect in Japan at this year’s World Cup

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New Zealander becomes second Verblitz player arrested for cocaine possession