The mosque massacre that took place in Christchurch just over a week ago has led to calls nationwide for the Crusaders to change their name out of respect for the Muslim victims.
A vast array of different monickers have been mentioned as Christchurch remains on high alert following the shootings, while the franchise have acknowledged the need to review their name, but have stressed the importance to only do so when they deem the time is right to do so.
Regardless of whether they intend on changing their name or not, however, they will not be able to do so without the approval of New Zealand Rugby.
NZR chief executive Steve Tew told Radio Sport that a change in name can only come about in a joint effort between New Zealand’s governing body and the Crusaders, given that the franchise is owned by NZR.
“But if it’s made, it’ll be made with the right reasons and they’ll have our support,” Tew said.
“It will be a joint decision. Ultimately the intellectual property of the Crusaders, as it is with all five teams, is owned by New Zealand Rugby on behalf of the 26 provinces that make up our organisation.”
The Crusaders have played under their current title since their inception in 1996, and have gone on to win a record nine Super Rugby titles as they compete in their 24th season.
Prior to the March 15 attacks, no complaint had been made about the name of the Crusaders, which stems from Christchurch’s historical settler ties to England.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars spanning about 400 years in the medieval times between Christians and Muslims.
Tew pointed out that throughout the duration of the Crusaders’ existence since 1996, the team had developed into a juggernaut outfit which had also provided a source of light in times of need, such as the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster and the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
“We’re very respectful of what the people of Christchurch and particularly the Muslim community are going through,” he said.
“Now is not the time to offer an opinion on what’s right or wrong (in regards to the team’s name), now is the time to respect the fact that it’s good that we have a conversation at some point in time, get the right people in the room and determine whether a change is necessary.
“I don’t think anybody will ever detract from the great work that’s been done by the club and it’s now one of the most recognisable rugby brands in the world, so the decision to change it is going to be a big one.”
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