In the wake of the terror attacks on two Christchurch mosques on Friday, the suitability of the Crusaders name is being questioned.
Concerns around the sensitivity of the Crusaders name are growing following the Christchurch mosque shootings.
It’s the most recognisable sporting brand in New Zealand outside of the All Blacks but following Friday’s terror attack, there are calls for Canterbury’s Super Rugby franchise to consider a name change despite its proud 23-year history.
To most people in Canterbury, the name Crusaders means a champion rugby team who has won more Super Rugby titles than any other side.
But to others it carries undertones of religious wars and hatred.
Forty-nine people have been confirmed dead after the terrorist attack at two Christchurch mosques on Friday afternoon with 39 patients being treated in Christchurch Hospital.
It comes after the terrorist attack at two mosques left 49 dead.
A gunman walked into a mosque on Deans Ave carrying a semi-automatic weapon and opened fire. He live streamed the attack. A second shooting occurred at a mosque in Linwood.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. In all, eight major Crusade expeditions occurred between 1096 and 1291.
The Crusades are estimated to have killed between one and two million people.
Previously, the Crusaders franchise used the slogan ‘join the crusade’ in a promotional campaign.
Reaction has been mixed on social media with some commentators suggesting it is political correctness overload and others saying the name is racist and needs to be changed before the Crusaders take to the field again.
“It’s time to change your name. Lead the way in professional sport by acknowledging history, condemning its horrific past and what the name stands for,” one poster wrote on social media.
“I’m a huge fan of the team but it’s time to change the name. I’m supporting the Highlanders now until the name is changed. The name and symbol represents a group of people that wanted to wipe Muslims and Islam out,” another wrote.
“I have thought about this too in wake of yesterday’s events – this is a discussion that needs to be had,” another post read.
“Naming a rugby team after “the ruthless and widespread massacre of Muslims, Jews and other non-Christians” is a probably a bit much,” Williams wrote.
Saturday night’s scheduled Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders in Dunedin has been canned as a way of showing respect to the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.
In a statement, Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said their entire club community was in a state of shock.
“Yesterday’s horrific attacks have left us all feeling stunned. All other issues and considerations pale in significance. We will now regroup and make arrangements for the team to return home as soon as possible to be back in their community and with their families.”
Carter said he woke up hoping the shootings had been “just a horrible dream”.
“Sadly it wasn’t. Sending all my love and thoughts to everyone affected by this absolute tragedy. Stay strong Christchurch!”
The Crusaders have been approached for comment on the calls to change their name.
On their website it states that the name was selected because “the powers that be believed the name Crusaders reflected the crusading spirit of Canterbury rugby.”