Tunisian Rugby Union accuses Zimbabwe team of “unethical actions”

Zimbabwe rugby players pictured sleeping on the streets outside their hotel in Beja.

The Tunisian Rugby Union (TRU) has accused Zimbabwe’s rugby team of “unethical actions” after the players slept on the street outside their hotel on Monday to protest what they alleged were poor conditions of the accommodation facility.

The Sables players described the hotel as disgusting. Players also protested against non-payment of their dues and meal allowances on their trip, during which they have already played Kenya in a Rugby World Cup qualifier match. The team plays Tunisia this weekend.

The TRU said the Zimbabwe delegation “started complaining as soon as they arrived” in the capital Tunis, refusing to pay entry visas at the airport as they did not have sufficient funds, which led to a delay of four hours at the airport.

“We had to contact (the) CEO of Rugby Africa who spoke on the phone with the head of the delegation of Zimbabwe who subsequently agreed to pay the invoice of the visa fees,” the TRU said in a statement.

It went on to give an account of what happened in the incident.

“Around 2300, 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,” the statement added.

“So, he started talking about leaving the hotel on the pretext that it is not decent enough for his team.

“He asked all the members of the delegation to take out their luggage, leave the hotel and spend the night outside on the ground. Local officials tried to talk and negotiate with the head of delegation but remained unsuccessful.”

Khaled Babbou, an executive member of both TRU and Rugby Africa, on Tuesday 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.

Rugby Africa also apologized to the Zimbabwean team following the incident.

“Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables team and management for this unfortunate situation,” It said.