Photo/IllutrationRon Rutland, right, and James Owens, left, finish their seven-month bike journey by delivering the whistle for the Rugby World Cup opening match to the chief referee at Tokyo Stadium in Chofu, western Tokyo, on Sept. 19. (Shiro Nishihata)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Two bicyclists who pedaled 20,000 kilometers over seven months from London to deliver the whistle for the Rugby World Cup opening match in Japan on Sept. 20 might be too out of breath to use it.

But South African native Ron Rutland, 45, and Hong Kong native James Owens, 28, put the whistle into good hands on Sept. 19 for the opener between Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium.

The two former rugby players rode into the stadium on their bicycles a day before the start of the first World Cup to be held in Asia.

They waved and smiled at Rugby World Cup staff and shook hands with chief referee Nigel Owens and handed over the whistle to him.

They rode on bicycles along most of the route to ask for donations for an international organization that helps children suffering from poverty. They crossed the ocean on ship to complete the last leg of the journey.

Rutland and Owens said that they were relieved to arrive in Tokyo successfully and would like to thank the people across the globe for their support.

They added that they will not need to ride bicycles from tomorrow and will cheer on teams while wearing Japanese jerseys.

The two are looking forward to enjoying Japan by attending a lot of the World Cup matches, which will continue through Nov. 2.