Tunisian Rugby Union hits back at allegations of mis-treatment by Zimbabwe in African RWC Qualifiers

Alex Broun 20:57 04/07/2018
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Peter de Villiers and the Zimbabwe team after the defeat against Kenya

The Tunisian Rugby Union (TRU) have hit back at claims of mis-treatment levelled at them by the Zimbabwean Rugby Union and given a different version of events that led up to the Zimbabwe team spending a very uncomfortable night on the streets on Monday evening.

According to the team they were forced to sleep on the streets after the accommodation provided by the TRU leading up to their Rugby World Cup qualifier with Tunisia this Saturday in Beja was totally unacceptable.

The incident became an international scandal causing deep embarrassment to the Tunisians after photos of the team sleeping on the street went viral on Tuesday.

But according to the TRU the Zimbabwe team, coached by former Springbok head coach Peter de Villiers, “started complaining as soon as they arrived at the Tunis Carthage airport.”

“The head of the delegation refused to pay the entry visa fees on Tunisian territories (60 dinars per person),” the TRU said in a statement on Wednesday, “explaining that he did not have the amount requested knowing that the Tunisian union had previously informed Rugby Africa by mail on all the procedures that go beyond the prerogatives of the union.

“This caused a long delay for the members of the delegation. It is important to note that these visa procedures are common between African countries.

“After a lunch offered by the Tunisian Union to its guests, an air-conditioned bus transfer was ensured for the members of the Zimbabwe delegation to the city of Béjà.

“They arrived at the Hotel Aladino around 20:00, checked in at reception and all the members of the delegation of Zimbabwe were entitled to a dinner, until then no problem was reported.

“Around 23:00, 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 organizational 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 delegation but remained unsuccessful.

“At 6:30 in the morning; and after the efforts and interventions of the organizational committee and members of the Tunisian Union, the Zimbabwe team was transferred to the Alrawabi Hotel in Nefza where they expressed their satisfaction with an apology to the chairman of the organizational committee.”

The statement finished by saying they express “deep regret for this unfortunate event and strongly deplores the anti-sports and unethical actions of the Zimbabwean delegation which do not reflect the strong ties of friendship between the two countries.

“Tunisia is, and will always be, a country of hospitality, always proven and that will make its pride.”

The match is part of the six nation African qualifiers for RWC 2019 in Japan. Six Nations remain in contention – Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya and Uganda.

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

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