Crusaders rugby team retain name following post-mosque attack review

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image captionThe sword-wielding knights were dropped immediately after the Christchurch attacks

New Zealand's most successful rugby side, the Crusaders, have decided to keep their name - after a review that began when 51 people died in the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Concerns had been raised about the association with the medieval religious wars between Christians and Muslims.

The club had already said it was dropping its knight and sword logo.

But the name will remain - with the club saying it stood for crusading for social improvement and inclusiveness.

The club said: "It was decided that no name better represented the club's commitment to living its values - crusading for social improvement and inclusiveness, and crusading with heart for our community and for each other."

At a news conference on Friday, the club also presented a new logo, saying it would seek to "reclaim its meaning through a new brand".

"The imagery we were using, with its nod to Christchurch's English heritage, did not effectively portray the region we represent or who we are as a team," Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said.

The new logo includes a Maori proverb - "ma pango, ma whero, ka oti te mahi" - meaning "with black, with red, we can achieve". The club will start using it next year.

image captionThe new logo drops all references to knights or swords

The Crusaders - who have won the international Super Rugby title a record ten times - adopted their name 23 years ago, when rugby went professional.

They are based in Christchurch and represent the upper part of New Zealand's south island.

But their name and the imagery came under scrutiny after the mosque attacks.

What were the crusades?

The crusades were a series of wars during the Middle Ages when Christian armies tried to recapture sites of the Holy Land from their Muslim rulers.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a war to take Jerusalem, leading to the first crusade and high numbers of casualties.

It did capture the Jerusalem and several sites thought to have been locations of biblical stories.

Wars between Christian crusaders and the Muslim rulers of the Middle East continued until the late 13th Century.

Wars in other places, including the Iberian peninsula, were also considered crusades.

On 15 March 2019, a gunman opened fire on Muslims during Friday prayers at the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, both located in Christchurch.

Fifty-one people were killed and dozens injured. The trial for the suspect has been set for 4 May next year.

At the time, the club was quick to stress the name was "not a religious statement", but said it would look into possibly changing the name.

It also ended the practice of having sword-wielding knights riding on horseback into the stadium before matches.

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