Crusaders To Keep Name, Despite Backlash After NZ Mosque Attacks

New Zealand rugby bosses have confirmed the Canterbury Crusaders will keep their name for at least another year, despite a backlash following the mosque attacks in the team's hometown of Christchurch in March.

However, the team will drop the knight and sword image from its logo at the end of this year.

Independent research commissioned by the Crusaders in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, in which 51 Muslims died, showed opinion was divided on the name.

But "people on both sides of the divide are incredibly passionate about this club and what it represents to them," Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said.

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey told Radio Sport that there was "no intention and never has been any intention that the Crusaders name would change in 2020".

But, he added, it was still being debated whether the name should change long-term.

The nine-times champion Crusaders, the most successful side in Super Rugby, have faced criticism over their name since the March 15 shootings targeting Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers. 

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

However, there has been a growing opinion that the name is offensive because of its association with the crusades waged by Christians against Muslims in the medieval period. 


References to the crusades are said to have been written on weapons owned by the self-proclaimed white supremacist who has been charged with the mass murder.

A market research firm has been commissioned to review possible options for the rugby team, which Mansbridge said would take into account "all relevant opinions and, most importantly, we are committed to doing the right thing". 

The review will examine two options -- dropping the Crusaders' name entirely or retaining it but revamping the brand.

They have already dropped their traditional pre-match entertainment at home games, which featured sword-brandishing horsemen dressed as crusading knights in chainmail and tunics adorned with crosses. 

But Impey said they could not consider an immediate name change because of existing contracts, particularly with merchandise manufacturers.

Mansbridge said any change would not come into effect until 2021 when the Crusaders license is up for renewal.

"In the meantime, the Crusaders name will be retained for the remainder of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but an interim change to the logo will come into effect for next season, with the removal of the knight and sword image," Mansbridge said.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew described the removal of medieval theming as "an appropriate step for now", but said any further consideration of the brand needed to be broader than a response to one event.

Similar debates have raged in the United States over the names of sports teams with Native American associations, such as the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.

In 1997, the Washington Bullets basketball team became the Washington Wizards because then owner Abe Pollin did not want the side to have a name linked to violence.

@Agence France-Presse

Two From Huget Lead Toulouse To Top 14 Title

Bounce Pass Sets Up Huget's Second

France winger Yoann Huget scored two tries as Toulouse won the French title for a 20th time beating Clermont 24-18 on Saturday. 

USA Women 3-0 On Day 1 In Biarritz

The USA went 3-0 on Day One of the Biarritz 7s, qualified for Tokyo 2020, and lost one of their best players, perhaps for more than one game.

Top 14 Final A Proving Ground For Players On The World Cup Roster Bubble

French Top 14 SF: Clermont vs Lyon

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

This Saturday’s Top 14 Final is not just about raising the trophy, it’s the last chance for players to earn a spot on France's World Cup squad. 

K-Pop Concert Damages Stade De France Pitch Ahead of Top14 Final

French Top 14 SF: Toulouse vs La Rochelle

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Concerts by Korean Pop band BTS have left part of the pitch at the Stade de France damaged ahead of this weekend's French Top 14 rugby final, a stadium official said on Friday.

Legion, Seawolves Eye the Ultimate Prize

Highlights RUNY vs San Diego Legion

This weekend’s clash between the San Diego Legion and the Seattle Seawolves for the 2019 Major League Rugby championship is a classic faceoff of the league’s top defense versus the league’s top offense.  

Five Sevens Qualifiers This Weekend As Summer Heats Up

Surfers Get That Winning Feeling

The qualifiers for the USA Rugby Club 7s Championships are already underway and this weekend is a big weekend as teams try to get started on a positive note.

Plenty To Play For In Final Women's 7s Round

The USA Women’s 7s team just has to run out onto the field at the Biarritz 7s to clinch a spot in Tokyo 2020, taking one more step in a run of success for both the men’s and women’s programs that few could have foreseen a couple of years ago.

All Blacks Lock Down Ace Second Rower Through 2023

Towering lock Brodie Retallick has agreed to stay with the All Blacks until the 2023 World Cup but only after a stint playing Japanese club rugby, New Zealand Rugby announced Wednesday.

RWC Throwback Thursday: Samoa In Brighton

null

In a tight and hugely physical game in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the USA took on Samoa.

The New, The Old, And The Injured: Eagle Picks Examined

null

World Cup years are weird, because things change in a World Cup year.