Springboks

WATCH | Springbok stars stranded at Japan airport

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Duane Vermeulen (Getty)
Duane Vermeulen (Getty)

Springbok stars Duane Vermeulen, Jesse Kriel and Malcolm Marx were among a group of South African players and coaches stuck at a Tokyo airport on Monday after Emirates had cancelled their flights.

A frustrated Vermeulen posted a video on Twitter which showed a group of people stranded at the airport.

Kriel, Marx, former Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga can be seen in the video, as well as former Springbok coach Allister Coetzee and ex-Bulls and Lions coach Frans Ludeke. All currently ply their trade at Japanese clubs.

They were set to leave Japan after the cancellation of the Top League season.

"Good times finding out our flights are cancelled as we arrive at check in counter. Absolutely no support from @emirates Stuck in Japan indefinitely with my family back home....," Vermeulen posted.

The Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) on Monday cancelled the remaining 42 matches of the 2020 Top League season in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The JRFU initially suspended Top League play for three weeks, but given the ongoing fear and worldwide spread of the deadly virus, authorities have now called off the tournament.

In a statement, organisers said they were taking the step because many players would be returning to their home countries after New Zealand, Australia, and others urged the return of their expatriated citizens.

According to Rugby Rocks, Emirates said they were unable to delay their connecting flight in Dubai for the group, while Kriel told Netwerk24 that they were trying to arrange alternative flights.

- Compiled by Herman Mostert
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