Crusaders' horses return for first time since mosque attacks

2:13 pm on 22 June 2019

Last night's Super Rugby quarter final saw a return of the Crusaders' horses during the pre-match entertainment, a custom that was stopped after the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

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The Crusaders brought back their horses last night, for the first time since the Christchurch mosque killings. Photo: Martin Hunter/ Photosport

The riders did not wear chain mail and wield swords, as they had before the 15 March shootings, which killed 51 people and injured dozens more.

Crusaders' flags were carried by the riders, while the horses were adorned in the colours of the Crusaders' six provincial unions.

Critics say the name and some of the branding and imagery is inappropriate given the connection to the Crusades - a series of holy wars waged by Christians, largely against Muslim countries, in medieval times.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge defended the decision.

"From the broader community and even the Islamic community it's been supported. There are some people sometimes who are not supportive but... they haven't seen the difference between what the horses were before and what they are now," he said.

"The horses that used to ride around the ground had knights with chain mail, armour, crosses, and swords. That's not what was on the ground last night."

Mr Mansbridge said the franchise was reviewing its brand and name.

"We've got an agency in to do an exploration of the brand from values, culture, history, everything that we've done, and understand that story and do a full brand review.

"Name will be a component part of that but it's not a focus on the name, it's a focus on the whole brand."

The team has built itself on a 'crusading' brand, with pre-match entertainment including the knights riding into battle on horseback.

Any changes recommended by the brand review will be announced by the end of this year, and come into effect in the 2021 season.

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