Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union have apologised to the Zimbabwean national team after they were forced to sleep on the streets of the north African country.
Images have surfaced on social media of the Zimbabwe national team lying and sleeping on the streets in Tunisia, allegedly as a result of appalling accommodation and a lack of funds.
They are due to play Tunisia in a Rugby World Cup qualifier there this weekend.
In a statement released by Rugby Africa on Tuesday, the governing body apologised and said alternative accommodation had been arranged for Zimbabwe.
“We would like to reassure the Zimbabwean Ministry of Sports, Zimbabwe Rugby Union, and all partners and fans that the situation was addressed immediately, and an acceptable solution has been found this morning. Tunisia Rugby Union took the Sables management to visit another hotel which was accepted,” the statement read.
“Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables team and management for this unfortunate situation. This does not reflect the standards of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition and we sincerely regret any prejudice caused.”
Khaled Babbou, executive member of Rugby Africa, is currently on his way to Beja to inspect the facilities and meet with the Sables team.
He commented: “I apologise on behalf of Tunisia Rugby Union, we pride ourselves in hosting Rugby Africa tournaments every year and make every effort to meet the best international standards in terms of accommodation and other infrastructure.
“Something went wrong for which I am sorry, but this was corrected this morning in consultation with the Sables management team. I can assure you that there was absolutely no intention to destabilise our opponents and we will make every possible effort to ensure they have a good preparation ahead of Saturday’s match.”
The president of Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja, added: “Our hosting agreements are signed by the six participating unions in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup and are very clear and strict in terms of accommodation standards.
“We rely on our unions to make sure the requirements are met and it is unfortunate that it seemed not to be the case with this hotel in Tunisia. However, Tunisia Rugby Union has our trust, they are long term partners to Rugby Africa, hosting several matches and tournaments on our behalf every year.
“I know for a fact that hospitality matters to them and they have taken this issue very seriously and are rectifying it. Player welfare is at the heart of our preoccupations, so we are not taking this lightly. We wish both teams the best for Saturday’s game.”
Earlier, one of the Zimbabwe players, flank Takudzwa Mandiwanza, told Zimbabwean radio station Capitalk FM that the tour has been a “shambles”.
“We have not been paid our daily allowances for our duration in Kenya, including our match fees that we did not receive. Now we’re in Tunisia, we were detained at the airport for close to six hours, with no allowances given to us.”
He added that coach Peter de Villiers had bought the players sandwiches and drinks out of his own pocket.
“We’d be hungry right now. The situation is very frustrating and disheartening.”