This morning, images surfaced on Social Media of the Zimbabwe National rugby team, The Sables, haranguing about and sleeping on the streets of Tunis, ahead of the Africa Gold Cup tie against Tunisia.
Zimbabwe, who last weekend, lost 45-36 to Kenya are to face Tunisia next trying to get their campaign back on track. They lie in 4th with 2 points.
The Sables were allegedly held for over six hours upon arrival in Tunisia while sorting out issues to do with their visas. Their allowances have not been paid and Coach De Villiers has reportedly been forced to cater to the team’s meals from his own pocket.
Zimbabwe’s flanker, Takudzwa Mandiwanza spoke to Capitalk FM in Zimbabwe to confirm the situation and said, “The journey 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 are in Tunisia, we were detained at the airport for close to six hours with no allowances given to us.”
Rugby Afrique, the continent’s governing body for the game, has since intervened and tasked the Tunisia rugby Union to provide adequate accommodation to their guests to which the Union paid heed. Rugby Afrique and Tunisia Rugby Union released apology statements to the Sables condemning the treatment arguing that this is not the standard at which the game should be upheld.
Rugby Afrique confirmed that executive member, Khaled Babbou, was on his way to inspect the condtions in which the Sables were ahead of their game against Tunisia. “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,” he said.
Nevertheless, President of Rugby Afrique, Abdelaziz Bougja, has reiterated the body’s trust and confidence in Tunisia and their rugby union and said, “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.”