Super Rugby 2019: Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge in no rush to change franchise name

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge says the Super Rugby franchise will take their time researching and deliberating a potential name change after the Christchurch mosque shootings.

On Wednesday, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Crusaders announced they'd engaged outside consultants to oversee the changes, with NZR chief executive Steve Tew describing the imagery as "no longer tenable".

Pressure has been increasing for the Crusaders to change their name after the March 15 terror attacks that claimed 50 lives.

The call for change is due to references to the historical Crusades, where Christian armies tried to take the Holy Land in the Middle East from Muslims. Two centuries of war left many dead.

Since the name change debate arose, die-hard Crusaders fans have criticised the idea, while many have also been open to it.

Speaking to The AM Show, Mansbridge wants everyone to be open-minded about the issue, regardless of what side of the fence you sit on.

"Whatever we do won't happen till 2020," explained Mansbridge. "We will do the research first, get feedback, then the Crusaders and NZR boards will make a decision, and it will apply from next year onwards.

"It's a sensitive issue because of what happened, and it's essential people listen with ears and hearts, and respect others' opinions.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge.
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge. Photo credit: AM Show

"People are jumping in to give their feedback very passionately and quickly, and most of these people come from our region.

"We stand for the second definition of Crusaders, which is trying to do something good and unite a community.

"We have lots of passionate fans that like what we stand for and they think about the second definition, but we have a small minority that sits to the side of it."

The Crusaders face the Brumbies at Christchurch Stadium on Saturday, their first home game since the attacks, and will include a moment's silence among other tributes to the victims.

They suffered a shock 20-12 loss to the Waratahs in their first match after the attack. They were scheduled to face the Highlanders in Dunedin the day after the attacks, but that fixture was cancelled out of respect to the victims.

Mansbridge said fans at the stadium would notice changes, as they won't have the horses and sword-wielding men anymore.

"We're reducing the swords and things like that immediately," he added.

"If you look at what the organisation is about and if you didn't put the name together with waving swords, crosses on chests, knights on horses, that has always been offensive to some members of our community.

"It was something we realised after the terror attacks a couple of Fridays ago, so putting all those things together, it isn't good judgement."

Meanwhile, marketing expert Bodo Lang believes the Crusaders have no other choice than to consider a name change.  

"The day the Christchurch attacks occurred, New Zealand lost its innocence," Lang told The AM Show.

"It's a key moment in our history and what they've done is really sensible.

"People were probably not aware of the entire meaning of the Crusaders. They were aware of knights and swords, but I wonder if people were fully aware of who the targets of the Crusades were." 

On Thursday's AM Show poll, 86 percent of voters said the name change debate was an overreaction.

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Join us at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Crusaders vs Brumbies Super Rugby clash.

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