- The Zimbabwean national rugby team has been forced to sleep on the streets of Tunisia ahead of their World Cup qualifier match this weekend
- The team is coached by former Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers
- ‘Disgusting accommodation’ and lack of funds have been blamed for the scandalous turn of events
The Zimbabwean national rugby team known as the Sables were forced to sleep on the streets of Tunisia’s capital Tunis on Monday night. The scandalous turn of events has been blamed on what has been described as ‘disgusting’ accommodation which was provided for the team and a lack of funds to make alternate arrangements.
The Sables are coached by former Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers and are currently in the middle of their campaign to qualify for the Rugby World Cup. The team lost to Kenya last weekend and are due to play Tunisia this weekend.
Zimbabwe’s former sports minister David Coltart was highly critical of the accommodation provided to the team by Tunisian officials and called on the Zimbabwean ministry of sport to take action against Tunisia.
Briefly.co.za gathered that the team were held up at the Tunisian border for six hours as officials first confiscated the player’s passports and then demanded each player pay R9,500 for visas to enter the country.
Images of the stricken team sleeping on the streets of Tunis have been posted on social media. One of Zimbabwe’s players told a Zimbabwean radio show via phone interview that the entire tour has been a shambles.
The player said no-one had received their live-out allowance and if de Villiers had not purchased food for all the players from his own pocket they would have gone hungry.
IOL.co.za reported that Coltart has further called on Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Senegal and The Gambia Trudy Stevenson, the country's closest envoy to Tunisia by geography, to intervene in the matter and to take appropriate action.
Meanwhile, Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union have accepted responsibility for the shambolic conditions faced by the Zimbabwean team and has offered apologies.
Sport24.com reported that both unions have now said alternative and proper accommodation arrangements have been made for the team.
Rugby Africa executive member Khaled Babbou is reportedly en-route to Tunisia to inspect the accommodation arrangements and to meet with the Zimbabwean team.
He said: “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.
Rugby Africa’s president Abdelaziz Bougja also offered his apologies and said the organisation had strict hosting agreements with all of its member unions. He said it was unfortunate that in this instance these strict standards were not maintained.
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