The Crusaders' name won't change this year as they undergo a review on the best way to move forward.
The Christchurch-based Super Rugby franchise announced today that they will be consulting an independent research company to seek feedback and provide recommendations on the Crusaders team name and brand.
NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew said in a statement that the current combination of the Crusaders' team name and branding is "no longer tenable".
"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. That is therefore not one of the options that we will be considering."
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge echoed that statement when speaking to the media after the announcement, confirming that there will be a change to the Crusaders' branding.
"We thought that there were three options on the table. The first was to do nothing; the second was to reduce the insignia, iconography and some of the swords and horses and crosses; and then the third was to do a complete name and brand change," said Mansbridge.
"We've taken the first option off the table in light of what we've learnt post-attacks recently and we thought we need to take that one off the table and we're going to go through a review process to consider options two and three."
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Mansbridge also said the Crusaders' name won't change this year, but any changes that may be made will be in time for the 2020 season.
"In 2019, things will be unchanged for us in terms of name. We will get through this campaign and do this research piece getting through the campaign, albeit at home games you will see little bit less of swords, horses and crosses and things like that."
The Crusaders boss explained that their decision to ditch the knight and horse imagery came after seeking "expert advice".
"We went and got some expert advice and one of the things that was quite clear, if you put the name Crusaders together with the horses and the crosses and the swords, and you do those things together, it's a clear reference to the first definition of what the word crusader means," he said.
"And that's not what we intended. We've sort of got there I would say more accidentally than deliberately. So we want to take that off the table and focus on reclaiming the second definition of the word crusader."
While admitting that the process could prove costly, Mansbridge said the number one priority will be "making the right decision" over any financial impacts, also adding that the organisation's process was fully supported by sponsors.
"The key thing is that the people who are interested in doing the right decision are committed to the process. I think we want to make the right decision," he said. "We'll be managing the cost of that as best we possibly can through the process. But the first criteria is making the right decision.
"The sponsors have asked us the questions ... I would say unanimously [they] have said 'we really appreciate the way you're conducting yourself through this and we really appreciate the sensitivity and also the process that you put in place. So we back you in your process.'
"So we haven't had anybody say 'right, we're out', they've all said that they're backing us through the process. And we've engaged them quite closely both individually and as groups. After the press release I got a number of sponsors come back and say 'thank you, we appreciate the process you're going through'."
The Crusaders face the Brumbies at Christchurch stadium on Saturday in what will be their first home game since the attacks on March 15, and will include a moment silence among other tributes to the victims.
"This Saturday's game we won't have horses," said Mansbridge. "This Saturday's game will reflect a little bit about the occasion that it is. So we're trying to tell a story about colour and diversity and bringing in as many fans as we can to participate.
"Before the teams arrive on the field, there will be a moment silence and we may have some stuff around that. You'll hear more about that later, it will be a surprise. And then we do have some musicians with some fairly special music that we're talking about before and halftime. And then after that, we're in development for what we can do for games down track."