Super Rugby 2020: Crusaders unveil new logo, but keep name

The Crusaders will retain their contentious name for the foreseeable future, but have revamped their brand, after the Christchurch mosque shootings.

The champion Super Rugby franchise has been under considerable pressure to rename and rebrand, since a gunman claimed 51 victims and injured many more on March 15.

At the time, NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew described the name and imagery as "no longer tenable".

On Friday, the Crusaders and NZ Rugby revealed the name would remain the same, but unveiled a new-look logo that featured a Māori motif and the phrase 'mā pango, mā whero'.

Translated, the Māori proverb refers to different cultures working together.

"Today, we are launching a new Crusaders logo and branding, one that clearly represents who we are," says Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge. 

"We are retaining the Crusaders name going forward, but evolving the brand to clearly demonstrate what the word 'crusader' means to us."

Mansbridge admitted his organisation was "shellshocked" by the shooting and "horrified" that their identity was connected to the incident.

"It's contrary to everything we stand for. As much as we thought we might not have liked it, we had to acknowledge the association had been made.

"It was time for us to go back to our DNA - our core - of who we were and understand a lot more about that, and reaffirm who we were, what we stood for and then reconsider whether our brand was appropriate."

Mansbridge insists the Crusaders considered "lots and lots" of other names, but none reflected their identity or values.

"There are two meanings to the word 'crusader'," he says. "I think of people like [women's suffrage pioneer] Kate Sheppard… I think about Tariana Turia, who is described as a crusader for the rights of Māori youth.

"Latterly, I've heard people describe [environment activist] Greta Thunberg as a crusader. That's used in everyday language and nobody seems to have a problem with that.

"We have to be crusaders who include and unite. I think people see us as something quite different to the link that was made - I think that's obvious."

The Muslim community was consulted, but wanted no part in the decision.

Immediately after the shootings, the Crusaders scrapped their pre-match ritual of knights on horseback charging around the field, but later re-introduced them simply as mounted horseman wearing provincial colours.

They also dropped the knight and sword from their existing logo for the 2020 season, but will begin introducing the new imagery as much as possible. The Crusaders website already has the new livery, as does the organisation's headquarters.