A decision the Crusaders will keep its name for 2020 but change its imagery in the wake of the Christchurch shootings has been met with strong opinions from fans.

New Zealand Rugby had committed to changing the team's contentious imagery and employed a research company to assess the merits of a name change following the March 15 mosque shootings which claimed 51 lives.

The Crusaders name, which they have held since Super Rugby began in 1996, winning a record nine championships along the way, has become a source of public contention as it was the title given to Christian armies who fought against Muslims early in the last millennium.

The Super Rugby champions announced today the Crusaders name would be retained for the remainder of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but an interim change to the logo will come into effect for next season, with the removal of the knight and sword image.


A brand review would commence shortly and any changes recommended by that review would be announced by the end of 2019 and come into effect in the 2021 season.

Fans quickly responded on Twitter from both sides of the debate.

"My 20 years of supporting the Crusaders officially ends then. I hope your new woke following will sit in the rain, watch every game even when your not winning, support grassroots rugby as well as rugby culture. I just couldn't feel more let down as a fan," said one person.

Another fan said questioned the decision given the names of other Super Rugby teams.

"A knight with a sword is not the same as a guy with a gun. If you change our logo are you going to change the Highlanders or the Chiefs or no because it didn't happen in their regions."

Meanwhile, the decision was slammed by others who wanted the name changed, with one Twitter user calling the decision "shameful cowardice hiding behind empty corporate jargon".

Another Twitter user questioned the intentions of the organisation.

"There 'never has been any intention that the Crusaders name would change in 2020.'


"Would've been nice for them to say so at the time. Would've avoided the uncomfortable idea they were just making the right PR noises after 51 people were murdered by an Islamophobic terrorist."

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said the research findings would inform the next steps in the process.

"Today we are committing to undertaking a thorough brand review, that will cover all elements of the brand, from the organisation and team's values and vision through to the logo and team name," Mansbridge said.

"What is clear from the research is that there are divided views on the name itself, but that people on both sides of the divide are incredibly passionate about this club and what it represents to them.

"A brand is much more than a name or a logo and this research has shown us that it is the values and legacy of this club that really endears us to our fans, so that needs to be the starting point of any discussion about the best way forward."

NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew said the removal of medieval theme was an appropriate step for now, but any further consideration of the brand needed to be broader than a response to one event.

"Even prior to 15 March, the Crusaders had signalled their intention to complete a brand review," Tew said.

"While the events of 15 March have accelerated and escalated that brand review, we do not want this to be solely a response to that tragic event."

Mansbridge added: "We will go into the brand review with open minds ... but no matter what the outcome of that exercise is, one thing that we will never seek to change or erase is our history.

"This club has a very proud history and celebrating that is always going to be an important part of our brand story. We will continue to honour our past as we look to the future and what that may hold."

Research First was commissioned to look into the views of various stakeholders and the general public about the Crusaders brand, and to provide recommendations based on that research.

Allen+Clark also provided research looking into the experiences of sporting bodies internationally that have considered or undertaken a name change.

• Crusaders to retain name in 2019 and 2020
• Logo will drop knight and sword image from apparel and marketing in 2020;
• Full brand review to take place this year to decide future brand for 2021 and beyond