One of New Zealand’s top rugby union teams the Crusaders has scrapped its knight and sword logo after a brand review in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.
The Christchurch-based side has opted for a Maori motif in place of the Crusades imagery following March’s attack in which a gunman opened fire at two mosques, killing 51 people.
It did, however, decide to retain its name, despite criticism it was closely linked to the medieval religious wars between Muslims and Christians.
“Ultimately, it was decided that no name better represented the club’s commitment to living its values — crusading for social improvement and inclusiveness, and crusading with heart for our community and for each other — than ‘Crusaders’ did,” the club said in a statement.
The 10-time Super Rugby champions — the club competition that features teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan — adopted the name 23 years ago, and formerly featured horsemen dressed in chainmail and carrying swords ahead of home games.
The logo has been changed to a Maori motif, with the proverb: “ma pango, ma whero, ka oti te mahi” which translates as: “with black, with red, we can achieve.”
“Once we had a clear identity story, we needed to ensure we have a brand that accurately and authentically reflects that moving forward. The research showed us that the brand element people most strongly connected with was our colors — red and black,” said Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge.
“When we took a thorough and honest look into who we are, the imagery we were using, with its nod to Christchurch’s English heritage, did not effectively portray the region we represent or who we are as a team.
“We believe that the logo we have launched today is a much more fitting representation of this team, organization and its supporters.”
However, the rebrand has received criticism in some quarters. A petition to stop a rename received more than 38,000 signatures and there has been critical feedback across social media about both the new logo and the Crusaders name.
One journalist described the Crusaders reasoning for sticking with its name as “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Another comedian suggested that failure to change the name meant it would be a “constant awkward thing people can’t agree on.”
The days surrounding the mass shooting were described by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the “darkest days in New Zealand’s history.”
Less than a month after the massacre, the country’s parliament voted unanimously in favor of a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons. She praised lawmakers for giving “a voice” to those who were killed.
The Crusaders said the rebranding was part of its effort to “evolve its identity.”
“This process has been invaluable in helping us to reaffirm where we’ve come from and to find a clear direction going forward. We look forward to taking this brand into the future with the people of the Crusaders region alongside us,” said head coach Scott Robertson.
The team won a 10th Super Rugby title earlier this year beating Argentina’s Jaguares 19-3 in the competition’s lowest scoring final.