Japanese rugby side Hino Red Dolphins has suspended its operations following a media report that has accused its players of stripping, groping waitresses, and smashing glasses at a bar in southwestern Japan’s Oita.
The club – which once boasted All Black No.8 Kieran Read among its number – has withdrawn from its upcoming match in Japan’s second division.
The Red Dolphins issued a statement acknowledging the media attention surrounding the scandal and apologized for causing inconvenience and concern. However, the club did not provide any details about the allegations or respond to the claims.
According to a report in the Bunshun tabloid, the players, who were allegedly drunk, stripped and harassed female waitresses, and damaged glasses and equipment at the bar.
The players attempted to avoid punishment by claiming to be from another club. The bar later demanded JPY 3 million ($23,000), and after receiving it, demanded an additional JPY 3 million, leading the players to hire lawyers.
This is not the first time the Red Dolphins have faced controversy regarding their player’s behavior. In 2020, a player from New Zealand was arrested on suspicion of cocaine use, leading the Japan Rugby Football Union to cancel three rounds of matches and commit to educating teams on drug laws.
Hino Red Dolphins forward Joel Everson was arrested after police saw him behaving in an unusual manner in the early hours of the morning in the central Tokyo district Roppongi, an infamous party spot. In a statement on their website at the time, the club wrote of its “apologies for scandals by our members”.
The suspension of the Red Dolphins’ activities is effective immediately, and it remains uncertain when, or if, the club will resume operations. The incident has sparked widespread concern and criticism, and the club’s management is under pressure to address the allegations and take appropriate action.