NZ Rugby and the Crusaders are due to make a statement regarding the 10-time Super Rugby champion team’s name today. The Crusaders brand has been under heavy scrutiny ever since the March 15 terrorist attacks in Christchurch.
The announcement, at midday, will reveal the team’s name from the 2021 season onwards and a new logo which will not feature the traditional knight waving a sword. The team has already indicated it will retain the Crusaders name for next season.
The franchise has long maintained it was in the process of a brand review regardless of the March 15 events, in which 51 Muslim worshippers were killed at two local mosques. The Crusades were originally holy wars between Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages, and the alleged gunman had the names of historical crusader figures in the period written on his weapons.
Crusaders CEO Colin Mainsbridge told Stuff last week:
‘It is time to evolve, whether or not March 15 happened.”
NZ Rugby and the Crusaders addressed the issue in the week after the attacks, saying that they didn’t want to make a hasty decision despite a torrent of discussion in the media and on social media. In the immediate aftermath their traditional horsemen that would circle the field waving swords above their heads were removed, only to make a return appearance at the end of the season – albeit with the swords replaced by flags.
They undertook a brand review in June, which saw recommendations made to retain the name in the 2020 season. The discussion around the name ultimately did not affect the team’s performance on field this year, with the Crusaders winning their third consecutive Super Rugby title.