Crusaders review ‘offensive’ name and branding after Christchurch mosque attack

CANTERBURY CRUSADERS SAID today they were considering a name change, admitting many found the association with the anti-Muslim crusades of the Middle Ages offensive in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The Christchurch-based Crusaders, the most successful team in Super Rugby history with nine titles, said they had commissioned a market research firm to review naming options.

As the head of New Zealand Rugby said the current branding was “no longer tenable”, the Crusaders added that they would immediately halt their traditional pre-game entertainment of mounted, sword-wielding crusaders.

“We are committed to undertaking a thorough process, taking into account all relevant opinions and, most importantly, we are committed to doing the right thing,” Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said.

The 15 March attack by a white supremacist on two Christchurch mosques claimed 50 lives in the heart of the Crusaders’ South Island territory.

New Zealand Rugby, which owns the team, said the atrocity had stirred passionate debate about the name.

“It is apparent that the symbolism the club has used, combined with the Crusaders’ name, is offensive to some in the community due to its association with the religious crusades between Christian and Muslims,” said NZR chief Steve Tew.

Tew said the review would examine two options, dropping the Crusaders’ name entirely or retaining it but revamping the brand.

“Maintaining the status quo in terms of the Crusaders’ name with the current imagery of knights on horseback is no longer tenable because of the association with the religious crusades,” he said.

– Rallying point –

Pre-match entertainment at home games usually features sword-brandishing mounted men dressed as crusading knights in chainmail and tunics adorned with crosses.

But the club said such pageantry would be dropped immediately, including for Saturday’s game in Christchurch against the ACT Brumbies.

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The Crusaders adopted the name when the Super Rugby competition began in 1996, intending it as a medieval-themed nod to Christchurch’s strong links to England.

– © AFP 2019 , originally published at 08.44

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