WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The Canterbury Crusaders said on Wednesday they have tasked a research company with carrying out an independent review of their branding and team name in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques that left 50 people dead.
The Crusaders name and branding, with a sword-wielding knight as the team’s logo, has been questioned as to its appropriateness given its potential link to the medieval religious wars between Christians and Muslims.
The Crusaders, the most successful team in the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition with nine titles, said any potential changes would be in place for the 2020 season.
“This is an event that rocked our community and brought some important issues to the fore,” Crusaders Chief Executive Colin Mansbridge said in a statement.
“One of the contentious issues that has been brought up in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks is the name of our rugby team – the Crusaders.
“We are treating the question around the appropriateness of our brand extremely seriously. We are committed to undertaking a thorough process, taking into account all relevant opinions and, most importantly, we are committed to doing the right thing.”
The team added that they had spoken to representatives from the Muslim community to convey their respects in the aftermath of the shooting, but they would not be “burdening them with any responsibility around our brand review going forward”.
Pre-match entertainment at home games, where horsemen dressed as knights ride around the periphery of the ground, would not be used for the remainder of the season, the team said.
“We accept that an association between the Crusaders team and the historical Crusades has now been drawn,” the team added in the statement.
“So, while we are keeping an open mind on the future of our name until the research has been done, we have decided to make some immediate changes to our at-game experience as a clear statement that this team does not in any way represent the religious Crusades.”
The Crusaders hold their first home game since the shootings on Saturday when they host the ACT Brumbies, with a period of silence to be observed before kickoff.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)