BEJA, Tunisia, July 4 – The Zimbabwean rugby team has received an apology from Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union, after the national squad was forced to sleep on the streets of Beja, Tunisia, on Monday night.
The Sables squad, coached by former Springbok boss Peter de Villiers, had their passports held for several hours upon entering Tunisia for this weekend’s World Cup qualifier, with customs officials insisting that a visa fee needed to be paid.
A nightmare trip then went from bad to worse when the Zimbabwe team eventually arrived at what was said to be cockroach-infested hotel, and instead opted to sleep on the streets in response to the appalling conditions.
In a voice note sent to Capitalk FM, Zimbabwe flanker Takudzwa Mandiwanza described what the team had been through even before arriving at their inhospitable accommodation.
“We were not 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.
“If it wasn’t for the coach buying us sandwiches and a few drinks from his own money, we’d be hungry right now. The situation is very frustrating and disheartening.”
When pictures then emerged of the Zimbabwe team sleeping on the streets, officials from Zimbabwe, Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union moved to quickly resolve the situation.
“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,” Rugby Africa explained in a statement on Tuesday.
“Tunisia Rugby Union took the Sables management to visit another hotel, which was accepted.”
Khaled Babbou, an executive member of Rugby Africa, was also said to be 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,” he commented. “Something went wrong for which I am sorry.” (ANA)