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Rugby CEO: Crusaders name to remain for Super Rugby in 2020

June 8, 2019
Crusaders David Havili runs at the Blues defence during their Super Rugby match in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, May 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Crusaders David Havili runs at the Blues defence during their Super Rugby match in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, May 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Rugby chief executive Brent Impey says the Crusaders Super Rugby team will retain its contentious name in 2020 despite calls for change after a terrorist attack on mosques in their home city of Christchurch.

Impey told Radio Sport on Saturday that the process toward a name change could not be rushed and “there is going to be a team called the Crusaders in 2020.”

“The reality is ... there’s merchandizing and that sort of stuff,” Impey said. “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 Crusaders to change their name arose after 51 people were killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch in March. The name was seen as a reference to the religious clashes between Muslims and Christians in the eastern Mediterranean beginning in the 11th century.

The Crusaders have said there is no connection to the religious wars, although the team’s logo incorporates an image of a knight carrying a sword and wearing a St. George’s cross, an emblem of the crusaders.

Crusaders fans have strongly opposed a name change but historians and others say the celebration of a religious genocide is no longer appropriate after the Christchurch shootings.

Impey said the consideration of a change to the name the Crusaders have used since Super Rugby began in 1996 will take time.

“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,” he said. “The process is underway and we don’t need to rush that.”

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