Cheetahs announce ground-breaking deal
Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs on Saturday announced an exciting new partnership which will see forwards coach Os du Randt move to Japan as forwards coach of Toyota Verblitz.
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It was announced that the two teams - the Cheetahs and the Verblitz - will in future exchange personnel.
Following the exodus of South African players to Japan in recent years, Toyota, the sponsors of both teams, identified an opportunity to contribute to the rugby society in both South Africa and Japan to foster talent and facilitate a first step towards a partnership agreement with the Cheetahs and the Toyota-owned Verblitz rugby club.
“For Toyota South Africa, sponsorships is not just about giving money and walking away - we like to get actively involved in our sponsorship properties and assist where we can. When the Free State Union was faced with numerous players showing intent to move to Japan to further their playing careers, we identified an opportunity with Toyota Verblitz to offer some continuity for players and coaches,” Calvyn Hamman, senior vice-president for sales & marketing at Toyota, said via a media statement.
This opportunity has led to the establishment of an exchange programme whereby selected players and coaches could be utilised by both entities, with players given the opportunity to play in Japan for the Verblitz club during their regular season (South Africa’s Currie Cup season) and return to play Super Rugby for the Cheetahs.
An opportunity has therefore opened a unique channel for selected players to play Super Rugby and Japanese club rugby.
“In line with Toyota’s vision statement, this gives us an opportunity to contribute to society through sport - we believe this partnership will yield positive results for both the Cheetahs and Verblitz as we will learn from one another to, in the spirit of Kaizen (continuous improvement), better quality of players and coaching for both teams.”
The programme’s benefits include: joint contracting of players from outside the Cheetahs squad, open channels of communication between the two entities to assist with player recruitment and development, and the prospect of contracts in Japan for players who traditionally would not be considered. Furthermore an exchange programme for coaches as well as offering the opportunities for the development of Japanese players in South Africa.
This programme has now made it first significant step forward with two-time World Cup winner Du Randt moving to Verblitz as forwards and scrum coach.
Du Randt will be travelling to Japan in early June to join Verblitz on a two-year contract, while acting as an ambassador for the Cheetahs.
This move will not only afford Verblitz the opportunity to work with one of the best forward and scrum coaches in the world but will also give the Cheetahs the advantage of having an ambassador in Japan that can assist with contracting and the exchange of players between the two teams. This will be the first step in the Cheetahs/Verblitz relationship and will significantly strengthen the bond between the two entities.
Currently, the two parties have started some discussions regarding the recruitment of players, inside and outside of the Cheetahs squad, to join the programme and have extended an invitation to a few Japanese players to join the Cheetahs during the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup season. Coaches from the Cheetahs and Verblitz will also be travelling between Japan and South Africa to assist with various areas of coaching, structures and skills development.
“Without a sponsor like Toyota, this Japan exchange programme would only be a dream. Toyota has made this dream a reality for the Cheetahs. This unique relationship we believe will change the future of player movement between South Africa and Japan,” Harold Verster, Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs, said.