Japan on Friday unveiled the mascots for the 2019 Rugby World Cup: Two mythical, lion-like creatures based on traditional storytelling characters in ancient Japanese culture.
Ren and G – or Ren-G – are said to “embody rugby’s values with the purpose of spreading the spirit of the game and happiness throughout Japan and around the world.”
The mascot concept
According to the 2019 Rugby World Cup official website, Ren and G are based on sacred, lion-like creatures from Japanese mythology called “shishi” that are said to bring happiness and ward off evil.
Ren, the one with the white hair, is the 'parent', while G is the red-headed off-spring. Both mascots are genderless.
'We are delighted to welcome Ren-G to the Rugby World Cup family. It is fantastic to see rugby’s values and Japan’s traditions come together and we look forward to following their journey as they travel the length and breadth of the country sharing the spirit of rugby,' World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said.
Mascots: A must in Japan
Ren-G, chosen from among 50 candidates, are the first mascots for a Rugby World Cup since 1999, when Dewi Dragon was picked as mascot for the tournament in Wales.
'Mascots are symbolic in Japan,' said Rob Abernethy, executive director of the World Cup.
'The story behind our mascots will create connections, a bond between the Japanese people, rugby and its value,' he said.
Ren-G will be travelling around Japan trying to connect communities with tournament and to promote rugby in the Asian country.
Fans will be able to interact with Ren-G prior to all the World Cup matches, and are said by organizers to “await with open arms” the opportunity to welcome visitors to Japan.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup is set to be held in Japan from September 20 to November 2. This will be the first tournament to be held in Asia and also the first time that the event will take place outside the traditional heartland of the sport.