Tunisia’s union pour scorn on Zimbabwe rugby team sleeping on street

The stakes are high enough with the winner of the Africa Gold Cup going through to Pool B of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but all eyes have been on Tunisia’s upcoming match against Zimbabwe for the wrong reasons.

It all began with some viral images. Zimbabwe’s former Minister for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart, posted pictures on Facebook of the Sables’ players sleeping outside the hotel they had been allocated, in an alleged protest over the conditions of their accommodation.

It was also stated that the players dealt with a lengthy delay at the airport dealing with ‘unforseen’ visa issues before they were taken to their initial hotel.

In a message sent to Capitalk FM, Zimbabwe flanker Takudzwa Mandiwanza said: “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.

“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.”

This chain of events has sparked outrage on social media.

However, the story has taken a fresh twist with the Tunisian union today releasing a statement entitled: “The Tunisian Rugby Union strongly deplores the anti-sports and unethical actions of the Zimbabwean delegation.”

In the release, it is stated: “The delegation of Zimbabwe started complaining as soon as they arrived on the 2nd of July 2018 at 12.00 at the Tunis Carthage airport. Indeed, the head of the delegation refused to pay the entry visa fees on Tunisian territories (60 dinars per person) explaining that he did not have the amount requested knowing that the Tunisian union had previously informed Rugby Africa by mail on the 8th of June 2018, informing them on all these procedures that go beyond the prerogatives of the union.”

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According to the Tunisian Union, at 11pm Zimbabwe raised concerns over the condition of a bathroom, the lack of a swimming pool and poor internet speed. Despite “quick intervention” the Zimbabwean side chose to vacate the hotel, they continued.

The release states that a new hotel has been found, one that meets the Zimbabwean group’s satisfaction, and that an apology has been offered to the Tunisian organising committee.

All parties will be keen to get on with the rugby. Zimbabwe occupy fourth place in the Gold Cup while Tunisia sit in sixth – the bottom position in the table.