Credit Crunch bites Japanese rugby club

Japan’s Yamaha Jubilo rugby team said Monday they would release their 17 professional players next season as their parent firm, Yamaha Motor, needs to cut costs.

Among the professionals are nine foreigners including flanker and former All Black captain Reuben Thorne (pictured), Fiji flanker Deryck Thomas and South African lock Rory Duncan.

The team, one of 14 sides in Japan’s premier Top League, are coached by Kevin Schuler, who moved from New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty club last February. He is also expected to be released after the current season, press reports said.

The move means that the team, now with 42 players, will be made up solely of players hired as Yamaha Motor company employees, with less wages from next April.

Yamaha Jubilo are ranked fifth in the Top League with three wins, two losses and two draws.


The Sanyo Wild Knights are leading the league, whose teams are owned by big Japanese firms.

Some teams in the lower domestic league let their professionals go last season.

Yamaha Motor, a major motorcycle maker, is following other Japanese automakers to curtail or leave sports-related activities due to the tough business environment.

Toyota announced in early November it was quitting Formula One as a team, just days after Bridgestone pulled out as a tyre supplier.

Honda has sold its Formula One team while Suzuki and Subaru have withdrawn from the world rally championship.


Motorcycle maker Kawasaki has exited the MotoGP and Mitsubishi is quitting the Dakar Rally.


Rugby is the third most popular team sport in Japan, but well behind baseball and football in participation rates and audiences.

The country will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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