South Africa rugby team officials have denied they lost their opening World Cup match because of Eastbourne seagulls ruining their training ground.
In a bizarre story published in a national newspaper it was claimed representatives of the South African rugby team put the defeat down to the training ground at Eastbourne College being covered in bird waste.
But a spokesman from the South African Rugby Union said, “We trained at the Eastbourne College pitch last week and I don’t think I even saw one seagull on the pitch. I find it completely bizarre.
“The grounds were some of the best training facilities we have ever had. We really enjoyed our time there and there were no problems. We would be upset if people would think any differently.”
In the wake of their incredible 32-34 defeat to Japan, South African team chiefs were said to be furious at the crazed gulls for plunging their training plans into chaos.
The South Africa team had used the college’s pitch at the Memorial Ground on the site of the former Beresford House school in Summerdown Road for their outdoor training prior to their match against Japan.
Ground staff were forced to bring in George, the hawk, to help keep the pitch clear of any gulls.
Jon Whitehead, of Cleankill Environmental Services which provided George said, “We were delighted to be called in to help and be involved with the Rugby World Cup. The hawks work really well with birds like pigeons and gulls which are naturally scared of them. The hawks rarely harm the pest birds.”
Springbok team manager Ian Schwartz said, “The stories appearing in the media regarding our ‘disappointment’ with the training facilities at Eastbourne College are so far from the truth, they are completely and utterly ridiculous.
“In fact, the training facilities we had at Eastbourne College ranked amongst the best we’ve ever had. In the days we trained there, we didn’t even see a single seagull.”
Eastbourne College headmaster Simon Davies said, “The seagull story is amusing, but completely untrue. Our head groundsman and team did a fantastic job to make sure grass on both training pitches was perfect. The ground was in perfect condition throughout the Springboks’ training week.”
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