Bok hero Vermeulen home safe after travel nightmare

Duane Vermeulen (Getty Images)
Duane Vermeulen (Getty Images)

Springbok Rugby World Cup winner Duane Vermeulen has returned to South Africa after fearing that he would be stranded in Japan. 

Vermeulen, who was playing club rugby for the Kubota Spears, was trying to return to South Africa after the Japan Rugby Union on Monday cancelled their domestic season because of the coronavirus. 

But with travel around the globe restricted, Vermeulen had battled to get back home after arriving at the airport to see that his flight had been cancelled. 

The 33-year-old had more flights cancelled throughout the course of the week and, in an interview with Rapport, Vermeulen confirmed that he eventually got back to South Africa late on Thursday evening. 

South Africa is currently experiencing a 21-day lockdown and Vermeulen is with his family. 

With seemingly no way home, Vermeulen explains how he received a message from South African, Alizane van der Merwe, who he had met by chance on his travels.

Van der Merwe, after hearing of Vermeulen's troubles, told him that she had secured a flight from Japan to South Africa on Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday night.

"She told me the flight was leaving and also gave me the counter number," Vermeulen said.

"Because I couldn’t book online, I begged them to accept cash. Fortunately, the airline agreed and I was able to pay cash for the ticket."

Vermeulen flew from Tokyo to Seoul and then to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, before eventually landing in Cape Town on Thursday afternoon.

"After 24 hours, I was finally back in the Cape, and I am now in self-isolation," he added.

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