Rugby

Verblitz flyhalf Ryota Kabashima arrested on cocaine charge

Kyodo

Toyota Verblitz flyhalf Ryota Kabashima was arrested Thursday on suspicion of possessing cocaine, police said, and the team has pulled out of the upcoming Top League Cup as a consequence.

The 28-year-old Kabashima, also an employee of Toyota Motor Corp., is suspected of violating the narcotics control law over the alleged possession of about 1 gram of cocaine, according to Aichi Prefectural Police.

The 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 license.

Kabashima has denied the charges, saying he “doesn’t remember,” according to police.

Toyota Motor Corp. has suspended its Top League team’s operations for the time being and told the Japan Rugby Football Union it intends to withdraw the side from the second edition of the Top League Cup starting on Saturday and wrapping up Aug. 10.

“It is regrettable that an athlete has been arrested who had entered into the world of fair play. We would like to apologize to everyone who has given their help and support so far,” the company said in a statement.

Verblitz, coached by 2007 Rugby World Cup winner Jake White, had been scheduled to face Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars at Iwagin Stadium in Iwate Prefecture in their first group stage match on Sunday. No timeline has been given as to when the team will resume operations.