Rugby Africa and Tunisia rugby chiefs issue apology to Zimbabwe

Rugby Union
Zimbabwe rugby fans in happier times
Zimbabwe rugby fans in happier times

Rugby Africa and Tunisia rugby chiefs have offered "sincere apologies" to the Zimbabwe team and management after players slept on streets ahead of a World Cup qualifier.

Pictures posted on social media showed Zimbabwe players on the pavements in Tunisia prior to Saturday's match against their hosts in Beja.

The Zimbabwe party were left furious at a poor standard of hotel accommodation, while also claiming they had experienced a six-hour airport delay over visa issues after arriving in Tunisia.

Saturday's game is part of Africa's Rugby Gold Cup competition, with Rugby Africa responsible for the fixtures.

In a joint statement issued with the Tunisia Rugby Union, Rugby Africa said: "Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables (Zimbabwe) team and management for this unfortunate situation.

"Rugby Africa has been made aware of the difficulties encountered by the Zimbabwean rugby team with regards to their accommodation in Tunisia.

"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.

"Tunisia Rugby Union took the Sables management to visit another hotel, which was accepted.

"This (situation) does not reflect the standards of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition and we sincerely regret any prejudice caused.

"We pride ourselves in hosting Rugby Africa tournaments every year and make every effort to meet the best international standards."

World Rugby said in a Twitter post that they had "received firm assurances from Rugby Africa that the issue has been quickly and effectively resolved."

Rugby Africa president Abdelaziz Bouja added: "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."

Six African countries - Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya and Uganda - remain in the qualifying picture for next year's World Cup in Japan.

Namibia are firm favourites to progress automatically from current qualifying, while the eventual runner-up will go into a qualification repechage later this year.

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