The Tunisia Rugby Union has hit back at Zimbabwe over the events that led to the Sables team sleeping on the streets of Tunisia on Monday night.
Zimbabwe, coached by former Springbok boss Peter de Villiers, first encountered issues at passport control upon entering Tunisia, while they then turned to sleeping on the streets after apparently being greeted by appalling conditions at the allocated accommodation.
Pictures of players sleeping outdoors led to a massive backlash on social media, and on Tuesday, Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union issued a joint apology.
However, in a statement released on Wednesday, Tunisia Rugby looked to shift responsibility.
‘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.
‘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,’ the statement continued.
‘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 statement went on to suggest that the Tunisian Rugby Union 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 qualified for the World Cup in 1991 – suffered a 45-36 loss to Kenya in a World Cup qualifier last Saturday, and are next set to face Tunisia.