Crusaders Weigh Name Change Following Christchurch Massacre
New Zealand Super Rugby side Crusaders decided to remove its traditional pre-match entertainment of a "sword-wielding knight riding a horse," and the club is "undertaking independent research" to decide whether the team will change its name from the '20 season following the Christchurch terrorist massacre on March 15. The terrorist attack has "led to debate about the suitability" of the Crusaders name "given its links to the religious crusades." New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said, "We are asking [marketing firm] Research First to look into two possible options moving forward -- retaining the ‘Crusaders’ name but changing the branding and associated imagery; or undertaking a complete rebranding, including the name and all imagery" (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/3).
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said that the process of deciding whether to change the team's name was "fully supported by sponsors." Mansbridge: "I would say unanimously [the club's sponsors] have said, 'We really appreciate the way you're conducting yourself through this and we really appreciate the sensitivity and also the process that you put in place.' ... We haven't had anybody say, 'Right, we're out'" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 4/3).
Saturday’s match against the Brumbies will be the first in Christchurch since the shootings (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/3). Christchurch's Muslim community will have no say whether the Crusaders rename or rebrand. Mansbridge said that "seeking the views of those directly affected by the shootings was not fair while the tragedy was still raw." He added that it was "pretty obvious" they did not want to be involved in the process (STUFF, 4/3).