THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) yesterday lodged an official complaint to World Rugby and Rugby Africa after the Zimbabwe senior rugby team endured a hostile reception in Tunisia where they were forced to sleep on the streets on Monday night, ahead of two crucial 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier in Tunis on Saturday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Disturbing images of Sables players and technical officials lying on the streets in the capital Tunis in protest over appalling accommodation offered by their hosts were circulating on social media yesterday, triggering outrage from across the world.
Prior to being booked into a dingy hotel, the Sables had earlier been “detained” at the airport in Tunis for more than seven hours after their 13-hour journey from Kenya via Dubai.
ZRU boss Aaron Jani told NewsDay Sport yesterday that the team had since been moved to a better hotel after they lodged a complaint with World Rugby and Rugby Africa, who provide funding for accommodation and travel costs for touring teams.
“As ZRU, we are disappointed because what we expected was a reciprocal arrangement which is at a minimum, the benchmark which has been set by Rugby Africa and at best, the same way we had hosted Morocco when they came here recently,” Jani said.
“They (Tunisia Rugby Federation) were provided with a grant of €70 per person per day for accommodation and food and the minimum standard was a three star hotel, which is what they were supposed to give is at a minimum. Sadly, they have gone way below the standards we expected.”
Jani said following the complaint to the continental governing body, the Sables squad had since been provided a suitable accommodation to start their preparations for the crucial encounter.
“Unfortunately, the team arrived late at night and we were not able to make arrangements to move them to another hotel but what I did manage to do was to contact the Rugby Africa president (Abdelaziz Bougja) to express my disquiet about the appalling accommodation offered to our players and officials.
“They responded very quickly because in the morning he managed to organise a delegation which sent the team to an alternative hotel accommodation,” he said.
Yesterday, Rugby Africa issued an apology over the treatment of the Sables delegation by their hosts in Tunisia.
“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,” the continental body said in a statement.
“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.”
The Sables, who lost 45-36 to Kenya in a Rugby World Cup qualifier last weekend, having drawn 23-all against Morocco last month, need nothing short of a convincing win against the Tunisians to keep their faint hopes of qualifying for next year’s global showpiece alive.