The Crusaders will keep their contentious name but the Super Rugby team has overhauled its logo after a review of the Christchurch mosque shootings.
The champion Kiwi franchise undertook an extensive and costly branding review, launched in June following the March 15 shootings in which 51 people lost their lives.
Critics of the team’s name and logo said it was linked too closely with the medieval “crusades”, a war between Christians and Muslims that spanned hundreds of years.
Crusaders bosses announced on Friday that the name wouldn’t change but that the 25-year-old logo – of a medieval knight and sword – would be replaced by a Maori motif.
A joint statement between the Crusaders and NZ Rugby said their final decision was made after canvassing a broad range of the community and rugby stakeholders.
“While the main focus of the brand review was not the club’s name, it did consider whether alternative name options would more accurately reflect the club’s identity and story,” the statement said.
“Ultimately, it was decided that no name better represented the club’s commitment to living its values – crusading for social improvement and inclusiveness, and crusading with heart for our community and for each other – than ‘Crusaders’ did.”
The team will play under a “holding brand” in 2020, with the new red and black logo to be introduced in 2021.
Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge has repeatedly stressed the terrorist attack and the team should not be linked although the franchise had moved to quickly distance itself from the medieval definition of the name.
The issue sparked considerable debate in New Zealand, with the Muslim community having said it would support any change to the team’s name, although it had been reluctant to force the issue.
The team’s horses, which have traditionally performed pre-game laps of the ground for home games ridden by “knights”, will remain but the riders will wear a different garb.
Coach Scott Robertson’s team recovered from the shock of the shootings to go on and win a third straight title in July. It was their 10th crown, seven more than any other team.
CRUSADERS | MĀ PANGO MĀ WHERO
We are excited to share with you all our unique Crusaders brand story which includes the introduction of our new logo inspired by our region (from the mountains to the sea) and….
— Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) November 29, 2019