Crusaders' logo change not good enough - Bidwell

7:06 pm on 3 December 2019

Opinion - It must have been the references to Kate Sheppard, Tariana Turia and Greta Thunberg.

The Crusaders unveil their new logo for the 2020 and beyond season after a indepth review.

The Crusaders new logo. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

After all, nothing says Crusaders Super Rugby quite like the aforementioned trio. Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge certainly thinks so.

Faced with trying to defend the indefensible, he somehow plucked those names from the air in an attempt to pretend the words 'crusader', 'crusade' and 'crusading' are part of everyday usage and that his rugby franchise are synonymous with social justice.

Let's unpack a few things here.

After a lengthy period of introspection and consultation, following the massacre of Christchurch Mosque-goers on 15 March, the Crusaders decided to keep their name.

Wow, we never saw that coming. It's almost as if the 10-time Super Rugby champions never had any intention of doing different.

But, hey, they have changed their logo. Just not in time for the 2020 season. What a shame. You or I might think they've had sufficient time to get that organised, but apparently not.

From 2021, fresh from aligning themselves with women's suffrage, "the rights of Māori youth'' and climate change, the franchise will sport a logo appropriated from somewhere else too.

The Crusaders struggled for identity when Super Rugby began. Canterbury had its traditions and legacy, but this new, broader outfit lacked anything to hang their hat on.

It took Wayne Smith and Gilbert Enoka, men whose influence upon modern New Zealand rugby is almost immeasurable, to give the Crusaders meaning.

Drawing from Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of Henry V, the vision and values that have taken the team to the top of their field were set.

Soldiers, swords and "once more unto the breach dear friends'' became the mythology that the Crusaders' success has been built upon.

Now we're about to have the Tohu logo, which Mansbridge said was a nod to the team's multi-cultural team and fanbase. If he insists.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge. Photo: Photosport

Only, from this distance, it all looks a little disingenuous, even cynical. Let's take a bit of this and make reference to a bit of that and all those left-wing whingers and wowsers will get off our backs.

This stuff about Sheppard, Turia and Thunberg is just cringeworthy. The word 'crusaders' has a meaning and that hasn't changed despite Mansbridge's attempts to throw it around willy nilly.

We all appreciate that these are complicated issues. Fifty one people were killed in Christchurch while quietly trying to practice their religion.

On both sides of this debate there are entrenched views and for every person who finds the Crusaders' name offensive and wanted it changed, there's another who can't believe this was ever up for discussion.

People who hate all the vocal hand-wringers out there and would have been outraged to see Mansbridge and company cave in.

Unfortunately, whether the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby really wanted to, they had to respond in some fashion. They had to make concessions and they had to make change.

It's just that it's hard to imagine a way in which this could've been done worse.

Like a dad with no idea how to cook dinner, you feel they've just grabbed a bit of everything they think people will like, thrown it in the pot and hoped for the best.

It doesn't feel like a genuine attempt to recognise the significance of this situation and opportunity and to respond in the right fashion.

But who am I to judge? Like all potentially unpopular news, they put it out on a Friday and by Saturday morning people had other things to attend to. Well done them.

They took a potentially toxic situation, doused it in buzzwords and borrowed cultural icons and came up smelling roses.

It's amazing what a comparison to Greta Thunberg can do.

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