Crusaders keep name but reveal new logo design

The Crusaders will retain their name and have revealed a new logo to replace the scrapped knight and sword symbol.

New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders held a press conference in Christchurch on Friday afternoon, concluding the extensive brand review the franchise committed to in June.

Crusaders board chairman Grant Jarrold, Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge, and New Zealand Rugby Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum, confirmed the 10-times Super Rugby champions would not change their name from 2021, and would instead "reclaim its meaning through a new brand".

It's a decision which will grate for those who have called for the name to be scrapped in the aftermath of the March 15 mosque shootings, which prompted some to link the club to the centuries-old Crusades, bloody medieval conflicts between Muslims and Christians. 

The new logo - The Tohu - is shaped by the natural landscape in the Crusaders region, stretching from the top of the "Southern Alps to the depths of our moana", the Crusaders said in a statement.

Mansbridge said the team considered "many" other names during the decision-making process, but ultimately opted against change. 

"We couldn't find anything that we were trying to do and how we are trying to connect with our community better than the name we have," he said. 

Since March 15, the Crusaders have distanced themselves from the medieval fighter definition of their name, instead aligning themselves with the meaning which is to crusade for good.

They had already scrapped their logo, ditched the castle at their home ground, and put a stop to the sword-wielding knights on horseback. 

The team will play under a "holding brand" next year. They plan to introduce the new logo where possible, although it will not feature on the players' jerseys until 2021, when Super Rugby re-launches as a 14-team competition. 

"When we took a thorough and honest look into who we are, the imagery we were using, with its nod to Christchurch's English heritage, it did not effectively portray the region we represent or who we are as a team," Mansbridge said.

"We believe that the logo we have launched today is a much more fitting representation for this team, organisation and its supporters."

New Zealand Rugby and Crusaders board members were unanimous in their decision, Jarrold confirmed.

"Lots of discussion, healthy discussion  . . . where we landed, the board was in full agreement with where we took the brand," he said.

Mansbridge reiterated the Muslim community did not want to be involved in the decision making process. 

"When questions were raised after the 15th of March, we were shell-shocked, as was the whole community, and we were horrified our identity was connected to that event. 

"It's contrary to everything we stand for. As much as we thought we might not have liked it, we had to acknowledge the association had been made so it was time to go back to our DNA, our core of who we were.

"We are the Crusaders, but we have evolved. We are committed to being Crusaders for good and for this community. Just as we have always been, and we've got a brand that we thinks reflects that."

Before they committed to the ongoing brand review, NZR and the Crusaders instructed Research First to seek feedback and provide recommendations on the team's name and brand. 

NZR and the Crusaders have split the cost, which Mansbridge would not disclose.

"From a NZ Rugby perspective, we don't see it as a cost, we see it as an investment into the future of the club. The bottom line numbers aren't really worth discussing," Lendrum said.

"Everyone is going to have an opinion on what we've announced today. What we've learned is to respect everybody's opinion through this process. What I would ask people to do is to open their hearts and minds to the piece of work that's been done, to look hard at what is the essence of this club. 

"From an outsider's perspective, as a Wellingtonian, you look at the Crusaders and say 'they're the best rugby club in the world on the field'. The step they are taking today allows us to reflect and say 'they want to be the best off the field' as well."