Tunisia Rugby Union blames Zimbabwe for hotel debacle

Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

The Tunisia Rugby Union has blamed Zimbabwe national rugby team for the hotel debacle on Monday, saying "the delegation of Zimbabwe started complaining as soon as they arrived" in the country.

The Sables, who is coached by former Springbok mentor Peter de Villiers, slept on the street on Monday evening, after they were not happy about the state of the hotel in which they were booked for the week leading up to their Africa Gold Cup clash against Tunisia.

Images emerged of Zimbabwe players sleeping on a sidewalk, using their bags as pillows and covering themselves with small blankets and jackets. Other reports also indicated that the team were held up at the airport for hours when authorities took their passports after they were unable to pay a visa fee.

Following backlash on social media, Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union issued a joint apology on Tuesday. However, basically lashed out at Zimbabwe in a statement released on Wednesday.

"They arrived at the hotel around 8pm, checked in at reception and all the members of the delegation of Zimbabwe were entitled to a dinner, until then no problem was reported," the Tunisia Rugby Union said in a statement.

"Around 11pm, the head of the Zimbabwean delegation expressed reservations about the state of the bathroom in one of the rooms, the lack of a swimming pool and the low internet speed. So, he started talking about leaving the hotel on the pretext that it is not decent enough for his team.

"The quick intervention of the president and three members of the organisational committee was not enough to calm him down and convince him to spend the rest of the night at the hotel, ensuring that they would find solutions in the next morning with the possibility to change the hotel.

"Instead, he asked all the members of the delegation to take out their luggage, leave the hotel and spend the night outside on the ground. Unfortunately, local officials have tried to talk and negotiate with the head of the delegation but remained unsuccessful."

The Tunisian Rugby Union said they regretted the incident, but insisted that the 'anti-sports and unethical actions of the Zimbabwean delegation' did not reflect the 'strong ties of friendship between the two countries'.

Zimbabwe, who last Zimbabwe 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. They went down 45-36 to Kenya in their previous match.