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The Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby have announced the Super Rugby franchise will stick with their 'Crusaders' named going forward, but have changed their logo after a rebranding exercise.
At Rugby Park on Friday afternoon, the Crusaders and NZR unveiled the new logo, which is the outcome of a comprehensive review of the Crusaders brand following the March 15 shootings at two Christchurch mosques.
Many felt the name 'Crusaders' was inappropriate after the attacks, since it comes from 'the Crusades' - a series of religious wars in the Middle Ages between Christians and Muslims.
The Crusaders will introduce the new logo in its marketing and at-game collateral in 2020 as much as possible, but the logo will not be included on their playing strip in the 2020 season and is instead likely to be introduce in 2021.
The logo, which has a Maori inspired design, was revealed earlier in the day by starnews.co.nz after it was put on the publicly available Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand website.
The Crusaders said the tohu (symbol) is shaped by our natural landscape which stretches from the top of the Southern Alps to the depths of our moana. Taking the form of the letter ‘C’ but expressed in a way that is unique, it is a nod to the club's legacy while moving it forward. Brought together through the substance of our colours, mā pango (the colour of infinite potential) and mā whero (the colour of true leadership), it is the combination of these rich ingredients that defines the Crusaders.
The announcement was made by Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge, Crusaders chairman Grant Jarrold and NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lundrem.
Mansbridge says nothing was off the table during the rebranding exercise, but the decision to stick with the Crusaders name was made due to being unable to find another name which identified well with the team.
"We explored lots and lots of names, none of them reflected our identity," said Mansbridge.
In May, NZR chief executive Steve Tew described the Crusaders brand as "untenable". However, NZR appear to have done a U-turn on the Crusaders name going forward.
"Those of us that were doubters, probably including Steve at that moment, we're really satisfied [now]. I think the club's got an exciting and evolved brand that represents much more of the essence of what it's about than the former logo and imagery did," said Lendrum.
A full review was confirmed back in June and brand agency, Designworks, was commissioned to complete the work.
Mansbridge says the Muslim community's opinion of the brand was sought out, but the community wanted to stay out of the rebranding process.
"Very early on we connected with leaders from the Muslim community," Mansbridge said.
"We reached an agreement that they want no part of the decision and we made a promise to them we would not involve them in any responsibility for the decision, we made the decision ourselves."
Mansbridge also admitted the effect of the link made to the Crusaders brand following March 15 has had an emotional toll on current and former players, and coaches and management felt gutted about the connection that was made.
"We understand why the connection was made, but I think some of the connection were quite severe and almost trying to link and trying to apportion blame. That's not who we are and so for many of the players and coaches they are still struggling with that," said Mansbridge.
"The reality is that very few people knew the history at the time the brand was launched. We've had people describe the decision to represent our identity the way that we did historically as naive and maybe a little clumsy. We're always trying to be better tomorrow than we are today, so we've learnt from that and try to represent our brand better tomorrow than we have historically."
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson added: “When you’re a leader you’ve got to know where you’ve come from to know where you’re going, and the legacy of this club is a big part of who we are. 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."