June 8, 2019 / 12:27 AM / 3 months ago

Rugby-Crusaders to retain name for at least 2020 - NZR chairman

WELLINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) - The Canterbury Crusaders would retain their name for at least next year’s Super Rugby season despite a review into its appropriateness in the wake of a mass shooting in Christchurch almost three months ago, New Zealand Rugby has said.

The Crusaders name and branding, which includes a logo of a sword-wielding knight, were called into question after the shooting at two mosques in the team’s home town that killed 51 people and is the worst massacre in New Zealand’s history.

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey, however, said on Saturday that the team would remain the Crusaders for next season because of commercial agreements still in place.

“The reality is that adidas have got to make jerseys, there’s merchandising and that sort of stuff,” Impey told New Zealand’s Radio Sport on Saturday.

“You can’t just change the name of a professional team when there are existing contracts. So definitely not. There’s no intention and never has been any intention that the Crusaders name would change in 2020.”

Calls for the name change were prompted by the link to religious wars between Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages and the team committed to an independent review of its name and branding.

Impey added the review was still ongoing.

“The process regarding the Crusaders name is set-up, there’s a sub-committee of the New Zealand board working with the Crusaders board to see which of the two options will be chosen; either a rebranded Crusaders name or a new name,” Impey said.

“The process is underway and we don’t need to rush that. There is going to be a team called the Crusaders in 2020.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Andrew Both

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