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Posted under: News World

Zimbabwe's Rugby Team Had To Sleep On The Tunisian Streets Ahead Of World Cup Qualifier

After receiving significant backlash, Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union apologized.

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Amid all the excitement over the 2018 World Cup, don't forget the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup is underway, as well. The Rugby Africa Gold Cup, for those unfamiliar, serves as a Rugby World Cup qualifier. The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan.

The Zimbabwe National Rugby Team (nicknamed the Sables) was on its way to play against Tunisia when what should have been an easy trip turned into a nightmare.

In addition to being held at the airport for six hours, the team had to sleep on the street Monday night (July 2). The airport delay was due to the team not being able to pay €600 (around $700) in visa processing fees.

Many took to social media to express outrage at how poorly the situation was handled, including Senator David Coltart, former Zimbabwean Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture. 

"Come on Zimbabwe. How can we allow a national team, our flag carriers, to be treated like this?
What is the Minister of Sport doing about this? Can our nearest ambassador help? Trudy Stevenson - can you?," Coltart asked, tagging a Zimbabwean ambassador. 

"It is time to restore our national pride," he concluded. 

Photo: GIPHY
Photo: GIPHY

This is true - I have received a report from a father of one of the players. Simply unacceptable. What is our government doing about this? https://t.co/BZhiLC0z7Q https://t.co/BZhiLC0z7Q— David Coltart (@DavidColtart) July 3, 2018

@RugbyAfrique Please urgently assist our #Zimbabwe national team @ZimbabweSables who have had a difficult arrival in Tunisia, & are still having problems. Unfortunately we have no embassy in Tunisia, so unable to assist on the ground. Tunisian Rugby Fed not answering calls— Trudy Stevenson 🇿🇼 (@ambatrud) July 3, 2018

Standard practise is the host team meets the visiting team on arrival and organises their local accommodation and transport. We do the same for all teams visiting us.— Trudy Stevenson 🇿🇼 (@ambatrud) July 3, 2018

Rugby Africa issued an official statement apologizing for the highly unfortunate incident:


Official Statement 🏉🎙️🇹🇳🇿🇼 - “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" Khaled Babou https://t.co/23youfqY71— Rugby Afrique (@RugbyAfrique) July 3, 2018

Coltart, however, wasn't about to let the Union off the hook that easily, urging the organization to take further actions to properly rectify this:

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Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director made of sugar and spice and everything rice. She has the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.