Verblitz visit the Cheetahs

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MORGAN PIEK

The Japanese Top League club, Toyota Verblitz, was in Bloemfontein on a fact-finding mission at the Toyota Cheetahs as well as to finalise arrangements between the two clubs.

The two sides have a partnership where in the future they are planning to swop players and coaches in order to improve the game of both teams. The delegation, consisting of general manager Masahiro Kamegawa and assistant general manager, former Japanese international Masanao Washiya, and their translator, Makiko Ikeda, were impressed with what they had seen in Bloemfontein. This even included a visit to the renowned rugby factory, Grey College.

Kamagawa admitted that it was intimidating speaking about their trip to the boys at Grey, but was nevertheless impressed with the school's culture he got to witness during their assembly.

Where the All Blacks were crowned as the 2015 Rugby World Cup champions in England, Japan's stunning 34-32 victory over the Springboks in their opening game at the tournament was named as the Rugby World Cup Best Match Moment. Kamegawa told Courant that we have no idea what the Brave Blossoms' victory over the men in green and gold has done for the image of the game when the sport's flagship event will be next hosted in 2019.

He said the national players had become overnight heroes in the Land of the Rising Sun and have been receiving unheard of publicity. Next year Japan will be featuring a team in the expanded Super Rugby competition and they will be represented by the Sunwolves.

Due to the Top League in Japan not being fully professional, a team such as Verblitz has all its players working for Toyota. According to Kamegawa this has made for an interesting headache for teams that are in a similar position.
"Verblitz belongs to the Top League in Japan. Players in the Super Rugby league will be consisting of the Top League teams as we have professional players and full-time workers for certain companies.

"Full-time workers will be dispatched to the Super Rugby team on a different type of contract.

"I can't mention the names yet, but one or two players of Verblitz will be playing for the Sunwolves in the Super Rugby next year."

Former Springbok prop and assistant coach of the Cheetahs, Os du Randt, is currently the scrum coach at Verblitz.

Cheetahs director of rugby, Rory Duncan, said that they will be going to Japan for a match against Verblitz, however, dates haven't been confirmed yet. 

The Cheetahs will face the Sunwolves in the Super Rugby league in Singapore on Saturday 12 March 2016.