Super Rugby: Crusaders considering name change

With tragedy comes change - and for Super Rugby's Crusaders, that could be their name.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge says while they'll grieve before making any decisions, they had discussed changes before Friday's tragedy.

"I'd be a liar if I said there hadn't been commentary and discussions, absolutely," he told Newshub.

The question is whether it's appropriate to name a team after the Christian Crusaders of the Middle Ages, who slayed Muslims over hundreds of years in an attempt to take the Holy Land in the Middle East.

The imagery of a crusading soldier is in the team's logo, and their emotive pre-game entertainment mimics the wartime acts of knights, swinging swords.

Historian Peter Lineham says the Crusaders name shouldn't have been sanctioned for their debut in 1996.

He says alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant's manifesto refers to the Crusader ideology and references one of the darkest times in history.

"It invokes a history of genocide and because of that the name, it should never be on anybody's mind," Lineham told Newshub.

"They claimed with glee that they made the streets run knee-high with blood - that's how gross a period it was."

Auckland University theologian Doctor Zain Ali says, while a decision shouldn't be rushed, discussing issues like the Crusaders name is important.

"Can we whitewash history?" he asked Newshub. "Is a franchise name really connected to the evils of the past? Or is it just a rugby game?" 

Mansbridge admits the name hurts some people, but points out their ethos is completely different from the Christian Crusades.

Their organisation sports the Rainbow Tick for being inclusive.

"This organisation stands for more than what that name is," he told Newshub. 
"It has always stood for supporting our community, doing stuff for our community."

Mansbridge also acknowledges they could exercise their principles under a different name.

"You make a fair point."