• BNZ Crusaders to retain name in 2019 and 2020;
  • Logo will drop knight and sword image from apparel and marketing in 2020;
  • Full Brand Review to take place this year to decide future brand for 2021 and beyond.


BNZ Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have received the results of the independent research that they commissioned into the Crusaders name and brand.

Research First was commissioned to look into the views of various stakeholders and the general public about the Crusaders brand, and to provide recommendations based on that research.  Allen+Clark also provided research looking into the experiences of sporting bodies internationally that have considered or undertaken a name change.

BNZ Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said the research findings will inform the next steps in the process: “We are grateful for the thorough analysis undertaken by Research First and Allen+Clark, as well as those who have taken the time to provide their valuable feedback. 

“What is clear from the research is that there are divided views on the name itself, but that people on both sides of the divide are incredibly passionate about this club and what it represents to them. A brand is much more than a name or a logo and this research has shown us that it is the values and legacy of this club that really endears us to our fans, so that needs to be the starting point of any discussion about the best way forward.

“Today we are committing to undertaking a thorough brand review, that will cover all elements of the brand, from the organisation and team’s values and vision through to the logo and team name,” Mr Mansbridge said.

The brand review will commence shortly and any changes recommended by that review will be announced by the end of 2019 and come into effect in the 2021 season. In the meantime, the Crusaders name will be retained for the remainder of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but an interim change to the logo will come into effect for next season, with the removal of the knight and sword image.

NZR CEO Steve Tew said the removal of medieval theming was an appropriate step for now, but any further consideration of the brand needs to be broader than a response to one event:  “Even prior to 15 March, the Crusaders had signalled their intention to complete a brand review. While the events of 15 March have accelerated and escalated that brand review, we do not want this to be solely a response to that tragic event.

“Both Research First and Allen+Clark have recommended taking our time to do this right. Research First pointed out that any change to this brand must be focussed on the future and not seen as a knee-jerk reaction to a single event. The Allen+Clark research highlighted that the practical execution of a name or brand change takes significant time.  So even if we wanted to, no significant change would be feasible prior to the next Super Rugby season when you take into account obligations to commercial contracts that are linked to the existing brand, merchandise, and lead times on apparel,” Mr Tew said. “We have therefore concluded that we are better to pause our thinking on the team name at this point and instead allow that to become one of the outcomes of a full brand review.”

“We will go into the brand review with open minds,” said Mr Mansbridge, “but no matter what the outcome of that exercise is, one thing that we will never seek to change or erase is our history.  This club has a very proud history and celebrating that is always going to be an important part of our brand story.  We will continue to honour our past as we look to the future and what that may hold.” 



Why don’t you make a decision now rather than undertaking a brand review?
The research from both Research First and Allen+Clark recommended taking more time, for various reasons. This is a very difficult decision given the emotional, psychological and financial investments in this brand.  We need to take our time to fully engage our key stakeholders and ensure that any decisions are based on what is the right thing to do for the future, rather than any change (or no-change) being forever linked to a tragic event in the past.  It is also not practically possible to implement significant change any earlier than the 2021 season, so we are committed to taking the time to do this right.

Why are you committing to the 2021 season for any further changes?
If our Brand Review does result in any further changes to the team name or logo, we need to allow enough time for our organisation, our commercial partners, our supporters and other stakeholders to take these changes on board.  2021 also marks the expiry of the Crusaders’ current licence agreement with NZR, as well as the first year of the changed format of the Investec Super Rugby competition.

What happens if fans still want to wear their Crusaders jerseys, and take their banners and flags to future matches after the logo is changed next season?
None of the current considerations are seeking to undo any part of our proud history, so we will not be asking any fans to stop using their existing merchandise and nor are we going to be asking existing sponsors to make any changes in 2020 to the material and merchandise that they may already have.  We will announce the outcome of our Brand Review at the end of this year so that if there are any further changes there is enough time to bed these in before the 2021 season.

Have you met with representatives of the Muslim community?
We have met with senior representatives of the local Muslim community to pay our respects and show our support. We have agreed that, given what this community has been through, we will not be burdening them with any responsibility around our brand review.  We believe it is important for us to be very clear that all decisions are entirely those of the BNZ Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby.

Who was surveyed by Research First?
Research First conducted a series of polls, surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews between mid-April and mid-May.  There were various survey cohorts ranging from sponsors, current staff and players, Crusaders alumni, fans and general public.  This was a combination of qualitative and quantitative research.