Rugby Africa has apologized to Zimbabwe Sables over the unfortunate situation that saw the team sleep in the streets of Tunisia ahead of Saturday's Africa Gold Cup that doubles up as qualifier for 2019 World Cup.
Photos emerged online on Tuesday morning showing the Sables players and coaches sleeping on the street of Tunis due to bundling on their travel arrangements.
"Rugby Africa has been made aware of the difficulties encountered by the Zimbabwean Rugby team – the Sables – with regards to their accommodation in Tunisia. 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."
Raga House learns that on arrival the Zimbabwe national rugby team spent several hours held up at the immigration offices with their passports being taken by the authorities who said they need to pay for visas amounting to 600 euro.
World Rugby released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying: "We are aware of an issue regarding the Zimbabwe team ahead of their Rugby Africa Gold Cup match on Saturday. We have received firm assurances from Rugby Africa that the issue has been quickly and effectively resolved today."
"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."
Earlier, one of the Zimbabwe players, flank Takudzwa Mandiwanza, as quoted by Sport 24, told Zimbabwean radio station Capitalk FM that the tour has been in "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."
Mr Khaled Babbou, Executive member of Rugby Africa, is currently on his way to Beja to inspect the facilities and meet with the Sables team.
“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 confirmed
"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.
The Gold Cup has been a huge success so far, helping to raise standards of African rugby, and popularity of the Game, we would like to thank the six teams , six hosting unions, ministries of sports, our broadcaster Kwese Sports and all our partners and sponsors for their support and assistance.”
Zimbabwe are the first team to visit Tunisia for the 2018 Africa Gold Cup with Morocco set to be other team to play there on August 18.
Tunisia have already played in Namibia and will be on the road to play Uganda and Kenya on August 4 and 11 respectively.
Zimbabwe left Kenya after Saturday's match that saw them lose 45-36 to Kenya Simbas.