Crusaders stand firm in wake of name controversy
REACTION: The Crusaders have reacted firmly in the wake of a renewed controversy over their name.
The Crusaders franchise defended their name, amid concerns around its sensitivity – following the Christchurch mosque shootings last Friday, which has left 50 people dead, with many more injured and traumatised.
It is not the first time that there were calls to change the Crusaders’ name.
The rugby community sees it as just a team who has won more Super Rugby titles than any other side – nine.
However, there are those who equate the name to the incredibly complex religious wars and hatred that were waged from around 1096 to 1291 – between Christians and Muslims, primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups.
And in the wake of last Friday’s attacks, reaction has been mixed on social media – with some commentators calling for a name change 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 have thought about this too in wake of [Friday’s] events – this is a discussion that needs to be had,” another post read.
The Crusaders, however, released a statement at the weekend saying their name was “a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community”, not “a religious statement”.
And the Highlanders versus Crusaders Super Rugby fixture – scheduled to be played in Dunedin this past Saturday – was also cancelled.
“In light of recent events in Christchurch, we have heard some comments around the Crusaders team name,” the Crusaders statement read.
“Like all New Zealanders, the Crusaders team and organisation are deeply shocked by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. This is bigger than rugby and we’re absolutely heartbroken for our wider community, which is where our thoughts are.
“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, however, we also believe that the time for that is not right now. Emotions are very raw and real at the moment. There is the need for this community to wrap our support around those who are most affected by Friday’s events, and that is the immediate focus for the Crusaders team. At an appropriate time, we will thoroughly consider the issues that have been raised and our response to that. That will include conversations with a range of people, including our Muslim community.
“This team and the wider organisation are united with our community in standing against such abhorrent acts as that which occurred on Friday in Christchurch, and in standing in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters.”