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, which contained Kabashima's driver's license, two days later.
Kabashima, who joined Toyota in 2013 after graduating from the University of Tsukuba, has denied the charges, saying he "doesn't remember," according to police.
The team said they had seen no change in Kabashima's behavior at work or in practice and that he had participated in practice up to Wednesday.
Toyota Motor suspended their team's operations for the time being and told the Japan Rugby Football Union they intend 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.
Toyota finished fourth in the Japan Rugby Top League last season.
While it is rare for sports teams around the world to suspend activities based on the actions of individual athletes, Japanese teams often take responsibility for their players.
Kanto Gakuin University pulled their rugby team out of the 2007-2008 All-Japan Championship after two students were arrested for growing cannabis plants at an apartment in Yokohama. More than 10 other students on the team admitted smoking marijuana.
In 2009, Toshiba Brave Lupus withdrew from the season-ending tournament after Tongan-born winger Christian Loamanu tested positive for marijuana, despite having earlier won the Top League crown.