Japan's Rugby World Cup unveils mythical, lion-like mascots

A pair of official mascots of Rugby World Cup 2019 "Ren-G," (Ren, left, and G, right) which were introduced officially throw and catch a rugby ball in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Rugby World Cup 2019 will take place in twelve venues in Japan from Sept. 20 until Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A pair of official mascots of Rugby World Cup 2019 "Ren-G", (Ren, left, and G, right) are introduced officially in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Rugby World Cup 2019 will take place in twelve venues in Japan from Sept. 20 until Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A pair of official mascots of Rugby World Cup 2019 "Ren-G," (Ren, in white, and G, in red), Rugby World Cup 2019 Executive Director Rob Abernethy, right, and Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee President and CEO Akira Shimazu, second right, prepare for photo session after "Ren-G" were introduced officially in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Rugby World Cup 2019 will take place in twelve venues in Japan from Sept. 20 until Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — The 2019 Rugby World Cup has its mascots: Two mythical, lion-like creatures that were believed in ancient Japan to chase away evil and bring happiness.

The Japanese mascots, named "Ren" and "G," were unveiled on Friday by tournament organizers.

Similar depictions often appear in traditional Japanese theater. Ren is the parent, and G is the offspring. Organizers said the two were genderless.

Rob Abernethy, the general manager of the Rugby World Cup, said the winning entry was whittled down from about 50.

"It's a very good choice," he said.

The Rugby World Cup, the first in Asia, opens next year on Sept. 20 and closes with the final on Nov. 2 in Yokohama.

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