9 Jun 2019

Crusaders retain name for 2020 season

7:03 pm on 9 June 2019

The Crusaders are retaining their name at least until the end of next year's Super Rugby competition, but will drop the knight and sword image from their logo in 2020.

Crusaders flag

Crusaders flag Photo: Photosport

The organisation will also undertake a thorough review covering all elements of its brand. Any recommended changes are expected to be announced by the end of this year, and come into effect for the 2021 season.

Calls for a name change were made after the Christchurch mosque massacre in March, given the clear links to historical wars against Muslims.

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

But in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings, the appropriateness of the name, the iconography, and all it represented, was called into question.

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

The Crusaders acknowledged those concerns soon after the March attacks, and engaged an independent research company to look at a possible name and brand change.

New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders have received the results of that research, and Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge today said the findings would dictate the organisation's next steps.

"Today we are committing to undertaking a thorough brand review, that will cover all elements of the brand, from the organisation and team's values and vision through to the logo and team name," he said.

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

In the meantime, Mansbridge said the Crusaders name will be retained for 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.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the removal of medieval theming was an appropriate step for now, but added that

any further consideration of the brand needed to be broader than a response to one event.

"Even prior to 15 March, the Crusaders had signalled their intention to complete a brand review. While the events of 15 March have accelerated and escalated that brand review, we do not want this to be solely a response to that tragic event," Tew said.

The research findings pointed out that any change to the brand must be "focused on the future and not seen as a knee-jerk reaction to a single event".

The research also highlighted that the practical execution of a name or brand change took time, Tew added.

"So even if we wanted to, no significant change would be feasible prior to the next Super Rugby season when you take into account obligations to commercial contracts that are linked to the existing brand, merchandise, and lead times on apparel.

"We have therefore concluded that we are better to pause our thinking on the team name at this point and instead allow that to become one of the outcomes of a full brand review."