Zimbabwean rugby team forced to sleep on streets

International
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by Beth Newman in Japan

Zimbabwe's rugby team were forced to spend a night sleeping on the streets in Tunisia, ahead of a World Cup qualifier this weekend.

The Sables turned up to their pre-booked hotel but it was in such a poor condition that many of the team and staff refused to stay there, sleeping instead in the surrounding streets.

Images emerged of the team sleeping rough in the Tunisian capital of Beja, using their backpacks as pillows, prompting an apology from Rugby Africa overnight.

The international body made moves to arrange an alternative hotel for Zimbabwe, which was accepted by the visitors.

"Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables team and management for this unfortunate situation," Rugby Africa's statement read.

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

Rugby Africa executive Khaled Babbou will also go to Beja to investigate the issue.

“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. Something went wrong for which I am sorry, but this was corrected this morning in consultation with the Sables management team," he said.

"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.”

This night of sleeping rough came after a dramatic few days for the team, with reports that Tunisian authorities seized some of the team's passports on arrival, after requesting a visa fee that many of the players and officials couldn't afford.

Zimbabwe, coached by former Springboks mentor Peter de Villiers, lost a tight World Cup qualifier to Kenya last weekend, 45-36.