Crusaders will consider name change in wake of Christchurch mosque shootings
Last Updated: 17/03/19 8:48am
The Crusaders are open to discussing a potential name change following the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 people.
The Crusaders adopted their name 23 years ago when rugby went professional but questions have been raised over its associations with the medieval religious wars between Christians and Muslims since the attacks.
The franchise, which has won a record nine Super Rugby titles, issued a statement on Saturday defending the name.
That statement said: "In terms of the Crusaders name, we understand the concerns that have been raised. For us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community. What we stand for is the opposite of what happened in Christchurch on Friday; our crusade is one for peace, unity, inclusiveness and community spirit.
"In our view, this is a conversation that we should have and we are taking on board all of the feedback that we are receiving."
Chief executive Colin Mansbridge said on Sunday they were open to initiating discussions about a change.
"We're in a state of shock. We'll acknowledge the feedback we've had. It is appropriate."
Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge
"The first thing for us is things are still fairly raw," Mansbridge told TVNZ on Sunday. "We're in a state of shock. We'll acknowledge the feedback we've had. It is appropriate."
The death toll from the shooting, carried out by a suspected white supremacist and described by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the country's "darkest day", rose to 50 on Sunday.
Mansbridge said like other residents of Christchurch they needed time before they looked at initiating the review, which would include discussions with the Muslim community.
"In the context of what's happened it is pretty hard to sort of elevate this conversation at the moment," Mansbridge added.
The Christchurch-based side's Super Rugby clash with the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday was cancelled after discussions between the teams and police.
The third cricket test between New Zealand and Bangladesh that was due to start in Christchurch on Saturday was cancelled after the tourists narrowly avoided being caught up in the shooting.
Other top-class matches, however, went ahead over the weekend as New Zealand's sporting community battled with the ramifications of the tragedy.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read, who also plays for the Crusaders, urged his fellow New Zealanders to reject bigotry and support the country's Muslim community in the wake of the attack.
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To say I have had a tough 24 hours of reflection here in Christchurch is an understatement. That this hate filled atrocity has happened in our back yard is beyond words. My heart goes out to the victims and their families, our Muslim community and the people of Christchurch. Our nation is experiencing a great loss of innocence in the face of all that happened yesterday. Bigotry and intolerance has no place here in Aotearoa. This is not who we are. Our strength lies in our diversity and while acts such as this are orchestrated in an attempt to divide us, love and unity will always prevail. #weareone
"That this hate-filled atrocity has happened in our back yard is beyond words," Read, who was caught up in the city centre lockdown at his daughters' school on Friday as police searched for the gunman, wrote on his Instagram account.
"My heart goes out to the victims and their families, our Muslim community and the people of Christchurch.
"Our nation is experiencing a great loss of innocence in the face of all that happened. Bigotry and intolerance has no place here in Aotearoa (New Zealand). This is not who we are.
"Our strength lies in our diversity and while acts such as this are orchestrated in an attempt to divide us, love and unity will always prevail."
Read's All Blacks team-mate TJ Perenara also urged his compatriots to think about New Zealand's Muslim community after witnessing the wider impact of the attacks on Saturday.
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While as cities and a nation we are all devastated by what happened yesterday, let’s not lose sight of the fact that yesterday’s terrorist attacks were targeted at the Muslim community. While it may have felt like it, we were not all at risk. We were not all unsafe. But we are all responsible for joining the wider conversation about racism, about white supremacy, about who we are as a country, and what’s actually going on. I walked through the airport this morning and saw Muslim people going about their day in fear, including one woman that I and a couple of others sat with while she cried. I thought about how they were in fear as their community has been attacked, and how they would also be in fear if the perpetrator had been Muslim and the victims random, afraid for themselves and their children due to potential backlash from others in the community. At what point do they get to rest? Why is everyone else able to go about their day? Why does the responsibility for such devastating actions by individuals get placed on entire communities in some cases but not others? The reality is I know why. If you don’t know why, once we have had time to grieve, it might be time for some uncomfortable conversations. In the mean time I implore you to support our Muslim community through donating to one of the fundraisers currently happening. To our Muslim brothers and sisters - kei te heke ngā roimata, kei te ngākau pōuri au, ka aroha ki a koutou. I am so sorry this happened to you here. You should have been safe here, you should be safe everywhere. My heart is so heavy. Ringatoi/Artist: Adrien Tavite
"I walked through the airport and saw Muslim people going about their day in fear, including one woman that I and a couple of others sat with while she cried," the scrum-half wrote on Instagram.
"I thought about how they were in fear as their community has been attacked ... Once we have had time to grieve, it might be time for some uncomfortable conversations."