29 Nov 2019

Canterbury Crusaders keep name, but with new koru logo

From Checkpoint, 6:23 pm on 29 November 2019

New logo, same name - that's the decision from the Crusaders following their lengthy review into the team's branding following the 15 March shootings in Christchurch.

The side came under pressure to change its name and the imagery surrounding the team, after the man accused of carrying out the attack said he was inspired by the Crusades in his manifesto.

Former rugby union boss Steve Tew even came out saying the team's branding and name was 'no longer tenable' in the wake of the attack.

However, the side has decided to keep the name because it said nothing else better represented the club's values.

Crusaders' chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the franchise was horrified that people connected the teams identity to the 15 March attacks and he wanted to change that.

Despite this, the team would keep the name and Mr Mansbridge defended the decision to do so, saying the team wanted to rebrand what it meant to be a Crusader.

"I think of people like Kate Shepherd in Christchurch when I think of the word crusader, I think about Tariana Turia and the way she's described as a crusader for the rights of Māori youth, and lately I've heard people describe Greta Thunberg as a crusader."

He said no one seemed to have an issue with the use of the word when describing leaders, and he wanted the team to be thought of in the same way.

"We want to be crusaders that include and unite."

When asked if there were any concerns about sticking with the name, given that the man accused of carrying out the mosque shootings explicitly references the Crusades as a motivating factor behind the attack, Mr Mansbridge said they consulted with academics who knew more about the Crusades than the author of the manifesto and the media.

He said they understood the team's decision to stick with the name.  

Mr Mansbridge said the new red and black Tohu logo, which was a nod to the Crusaders multi-cultural team and fan base, was one of the ways the club was trying to move away from the side's old imagery of knights and swords.

However, Mr Mansbridge could not confirm if the horses would be returning to field for Crusaders' home games next year.

He told media the Crusaders had consulted with the members of the Muslim community about the review process, and came to an agreement.

"We connected with leaders in the Muslim community very early on and we reached an agreement that they wanted no part of the decision.

"We made a promise to them that we would not involve them in any responsibility for the decision, we'd make the decision ourselves."

An Auckland based brand strategist, Jill Brindson, said it was a smart move to keep the name as it would have kept the team's strong fan base happy.

"People are very frightened of change and the truth is a smart organisation, and this is a smart organisation, will take their fans with them [when they make a new branding decision]."

That was feeling echoed by the former president of Canterbury supporters' club, Dick Tayler, who was delighted by today's announcement.

"I am very relieved and pleased the name Crusaders is staying, I think keeping the name is a great part of the [team's] heritage."

Mr Tayler felt like the imagery needed to go but he was tepid on the new, Māori inspired logo.

"No disrespect for the Māori but a lot of cultures live in Christchurch and New Zealand and around the world."

He questioned the decision to centre on one culture in the team's logo.

Going into next season the Crusaders will look to slowly roll out more of the messaging behind its rebrand.

The new logo is expected to feature on the team's jerseys in 2021.