(Reuters) - Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union (TRU) have apologised to Zimbabwe after their players slept on the street following problems with their accommodation before a match this weekend.
Zimbabwe’s players have also not been paid their meal allowances on a trip to play a World Cup qualifier, leaving their South African coach Peter de Villiers to fund their food and drink out of his own pocket.
Zimbabwe are in Tunisia for a Gold Cup fixture against the North African nation in the town of Monastir on Saturday, which serves as a qualifier for next year’s rugby World Cup in Japan.
Images on social media showed players sleeping on the street outside of the hotel which they had been allocated. They did not check in because they felt the hotel was substandard.
“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,” Rugby Africa said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Tunisia Rugby Union took the Sables (Zimbabwe) management to visit another hotel which was accepted,” Rugby Africa said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables team and management for this unfortunate situation,” it added.
Khaled Babbou, an executive member of both TRU and Rugby Africa, said there was no intention to disrupt Zimbabwe’s preparations for the match.
“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,” Babbou was quoted as saying by South Africa’s News24.
Zimbabwe loose-forward Takudzwa Mandiwanza said the issues started ahead of the team’s previous match, a 45-36 loss to Kenya in Nairobi last weekend.
“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,” he told Zimbabwean radio station Capitalk FM, adding De Villiers had paid for the players to eat.
“We’d be hungry right now. The situation is very frustrating and disheartening,” he added.
There was no immediate comment from the Zimbabwe rugby authorities.
Namibia currently head the Gold Cup standings with a full haul of 15 points from three matches, including an 118-0 victory over Tunisia. Zimbabwe have a draw and a defeat from their two matches.
Only the top team advances automatically to the World Cup, with the second-placed side entering a play-off.
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Keith Weir