SEAGULLS caused havoc at the Springboks' training ground by pelting the ground with poo, it has emerged.

Now the birds have even been blamed for the South African team’s shock defeat to Japan.

The team used Eastbourne College’s pitch at the Memorial ground to train for the match at the Amex on Saturday.

But groundstaff had to call a pest control company after getting inundated with the birds before the team arrived.

Jon Whitehead, a director at Clean Kill Environmental Services, told The Argus: “I got a phone-call from the head groundsman.

“They had spent quite a lot of money on preparing the ground to host the South African team, and the seagulls found this a nice place to rest.

“I think they were looking for worms to eat or something like that and they were creating a mess on the pitch.

“So they asked for some help and advice.

“We were able to tell them that when you get a large flock what you can do by introducing a hawk to the area is disrupt their feeding patterns.”

The Croydon-based company did a trial flight with a hawk before the team arrived and was put on standby in case needed again, Mr Whitehead added.

Head groundsman Richard Maryan said: “At one time we had more than 100 gulls on the pitch after we had cut the grass and they were making an horrendous mess.”

Two-times world champion South Africa lost 34-32 to underdogs Japan on Saturday, one of the greatest upsets in Rugby World Cup history.

Twitter account TheatreAfrica, which has 11,000 followers, wrote: “Seagulls plague South African Springboks training ground with POO. Now I know why we lost.”

Another fan wrote, according to a national newspaper: “Thanks a lot, seagulls. How can the players be expected to train in these conditions?”

The Rugby World Cup organising body visited Eastbourne College several times to conduct detailed pitch inspections.

Eastbourne College headmaster Simon Davies said: "The excellent work of the Eastbourne College grounds team in preparing training pitches for our Springbok guests and George the Hawk’s efficacy as an ethically sound pest deterrent has in fact been foully defamed by ludicrous claims that ‘seagulls on the pitches’ had anything to do with the South Africans’ performance at the Amex stadium (where, I note, the Seagulls play all their home matches; very suspicious?).

"In fact the Springbok Team Manager Ian Schwartz said the training facilities they had at Eastbourne College ranked among the best they’d ever used.

"In the days they trained here they didn’t even see a single seagull!

"Having the Springboks in our wonderful town gave a great amount of joy and excitement to the people of Eastbourne – young and old."