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NZ Rugby Club Considers Name Change After Christchurch

  • The team’s current badge features a sword-wielding knight with a cross on his chest in the style of a medieval Crusader
  • The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin church between Christians and Muslims during the medieval period 
  • Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant made references to the Crusades in his manifesto and printed the names of Crusader military leaders on the weapons he used in the attack.

The Christchurch-based Super Rugby club, the Crusaders, has confirmed it was considering name and imagery change in the coming season in the wake of terrorist attacks on two mosques, The Guardian reported.

“This is an event that rocked our community and brought some important issues to the fore,” Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said.

“One of the contentious issues that have been brought up in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks is the name of our rugby team – the Crusaders.

“Because of our desire to be the best we can be and to support our community, we are treating the question around the appropriateness of our brand extremely seriously. We are committed to undertaking a thorough process, taking into account all relevant opinions and, most importantly, we are committed to doing the right thing.”

Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 50 Muslim worshippers in March 15 attacks as he targeted Al Noor and Linwood mosques.

After the attacks, the club said they were hiring an independent company to research a new name and imagery from next season.

The current name, the Crusaders, hints to a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period against the Muslim world.

The team’s current badge features a sword-wielding knight with a cross on his chest in the style of a medieval Crusader.

“Maintaining the status quo in terms of the Crusaders name along with the current imagery of knights on horseback is, in our view, no longer tenable because of the association with the religious Crusades that has now been drawn,” New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said.

“That is therefore not one of the options that we will be considering.”

Multiple women, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, covered up their heads in the wake of the shooting.

New Zealand has come together to support Muslims over the past weeks.

On Friday, March 29, around 25,000 gathered at North Hagley Park, a few meters away from Al Noor Mosque, a scene of the terrorist attacks.

A week earlier, the whole nation supported the Muslim community by airing on national TV adhan and Jum`ah prayer for the first time.

Nationwide ceremonies moreover saw poignant scenes of Kiwis embracing Muslims, and of non-Muslim New Zealand women donning makeshift Islamic headscarves in solidarity.

Many groups also called on women to don the hijab for one day to show solidarity with the Muslim community, especially women.

In the rugby world, many teams and players also expressed solidarity and support.

On March 28, four Manly Sea Eagles players paid an emotional visit to one of the mosques which were the scene of a terrorist shooting in Christchurch.

Earlier, the All Blacks rugby player Ofa Tu’ungafasi accepted Islam following a visit with his Muslim teammate Sonny Bill Williams over the weekend to the survivors of Christchurch mosque terrorist attack.


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