Tunisia Rugby Union apologises to Zimbabwe for hotel shambles

Coach Peter de Villiers tries to console his Zimbabwe players following their defeat to Kenya. SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union have apologised to the Zimbabwe national rugby team after the Sables slept on the streets of Tunisia ahead of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup Test between the two countries.

Images emerged of Zimbabwe players sleeping on a sidewalk, using their bags as pillows and covering themselves with small blankets and jackets. This was in response to the poor accommodation they were afforded in the North African country.

"We have been made aware of the difficulties encountered by the Zimbabwean Rugby team - the Sables - with regards to their accommodation in Tunisia," Rugby Africa said in a statement.

"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. 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."

According to the statement, Khaled Babbou, executive member of Rugby Africa, is travelling to Beja to inspect the facilities and meet with the Sables team.

"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," Babbou said.

"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."

The president of Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja, said 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." Bougja said.

"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."

Zimbabwe, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1991, played to a tie with Morocco in their first match of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which also doubles as the qualifiers for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. Coach Peter de Villiers' team went down 45-36 to Kenya in their previous match.