Posted on Thursday, 23 Mar 2016
At the end of the 2014 season and after losing a number of players because of limited funding, Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd established a program whereby players could play in Japan during the Currie Cup season and return to play for the Cheetahs Super Rugby franchise at the conclusion of the Japan league. By having Toyota as a sponsor it enabled Free State Rugby to engage freely with Verblitz, a Toyota owned club in Japan.
After Director of Rugby, Rory Duncan, visited Toyota Verblitz in 2015, discussions took place regarding the road ahead. Various opportunities were identified for both Toyota Cheetahs and Toyota Verblitz to strengthen the rugby programs. Projects involve the development of both coaches and players in an attempt to better the overall rugby performance within both teams.
The objectives and strategies include player recruitment, player exchange, a rugby match between Toyota Verblitz and Toyota Cheetahs, a visit to Toyota Cheetahs and coaches’ exchange.
A contacting model has been developed that allows Toyota Verblitz and Toyota Cheetahs to recruit players and compete with other clubs/franchises. Both teams are open to the idea of joint contracting of players whereby the player will be contracted in Japan for the Japan Top League competition and in South Africa for the Super Rugby competition.
The objective is to offer development opportunities for Toyota Verblitz players by having them train and possibly play for the Super Rugby or Currie Cup Qualifiers team .
The Toyota Cheetahs have invited two Japanese players to join the team for the Currie Cup Qualifying round whilst their team is not playing any league games. Yosuke Takahashi and Yoshizumi Takeda are currently in Bloemfontein training with the Toyota Free State XV Currie Cup squad.
Toyota Cheetah lock, Francois Uys played for Toyota Verblitz for a brief period before the start of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition in 2016.
Rugby Match between Toyota Verblitz and Toyota Cheetahs
Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd is excited to announce that the Toyota Cheetahs will be playing against Toyota Verblitz on Friday, 23 July in Japan. The game will serve as preparation for Japan Top League and Currie Cup competitions. This will be a historical landmark for the two teams.
Visit to Toyota Cheetahs
Toyota Verblitz management visited the Toyota Cheetahs during October 2015 to gain knowledge of the Cheetahs rugby program whilst at the same time assessing the environment that their players will be playing.
Four additional members of the Toyota Verblitz management are currently joining the two players in Bloemfontein to have a further look at the Cheetah’s structures and to exchange ideas with Cheetahs management team.
Former Springbok prop and Toyota Cheetah forwards coach, Os du Randt joined Toyota Verblitz at the end of May 2015 for a two year coaching contract. Coaches from Free State Rugby will also be travelling to Japan later this year to exchange ideas with their Japanese counterparts.
The vision is to establish a reciprocal relationship between Toyota Cheetahs and Toyota Verblitz that will ensure the continued improvement of both teams.