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Leo the Leinster Lion set to meet girlfriend Leona

LEINSTER rugby mascot Leo the Lion will soon have a new girlfriend to cuddle up to.

A competition to find a new mate for Leo has been won by Leona the Lioness.

Almost 6,000 votes were cast online for the final 10 candidates with Rebecca Cavaliere's drawing of Leona the Lioness picked as the winning entry to be made into a larger-than-life team mascot.

The 12-year-old from Gorey Central School in Wexford got a surprise visit at her school from competition organisers.

Rebecca said that she was very happy to win but was completely shocked when the announcement was made. "I'm really, really happy. I only just found out that I had won and they came to the school, it was such a shock when they said I had won," a delighted Rebecca told the Herald.

"I was so pleased. I'm delighted and all of my friends are delighted.

"I'm really happy and now I get to bring 400 people to a Leinster match too."

The competition saw enormous interest with over 3,500 entries being cut down to just 10 finalists, who were brought along with their families to the Leinster versus Ospreys match in the RDS earlier this month where the 10 designs were on display.

Rebecca's mother Christine said that she was thrilled.