By changing the logo, the Super Rugby side is admitting that the brand is problematic – but they haven’t actually changed the crucially problematic bit, writes Jamie Wall.
OK, so there’s finally been a bit of movement in one of the biggest rugby issues of the year. The only problem is it hasn’t gone very far and might actually make things worse.
If you didn’t know, the Crusaders are a rugby team that plays in Christchurch. They are very successful, having won their 10th Super Rugby title and third in a row earlier this season. However, after the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks, there have been many calls for them to change their name given its associations with the historical religious wars between Christianity and Islam over 600 years ago.
There’s also been extremely heated support to keep the name, mainly from fans of the team but also from a large section of what you’d call anti-political correctness types on social media.
Add in the fact that the Crusaders themselves acted swiftly to address the criticism in the days following the attacks and then said they were considering a rebrand before the attacks happened anyway, and you’ve got a mess of a situation. Especially now that today, NZ Rugby announced that the team would be changing their logo from a medieval soldier swinging a sword to what looks to be a Māori-inspired ‘C’, but keeping the name that has so many people upset.
This is the problem. By changing the logo, they’re admitting that the brand is problematic, but they’re not changing the crucially problematic bit. They’re saying that the name is too valuable to chuck away, even though that’s the word that will be uttered every time the team takes the field, is in the news, on social media, and in pubs and rugby clubs around the country. So really, what they’ve done hasn’t changed much at all, never mind the fact that it’s taken them eight months to do anything.
This is yet another piece in which inaction by a sporting body has led to a reaction, but now it’s clear that simply doing the bare minimum isn’t going to cut it. Someone’s trying to have it both ways and it isn’t going to work because, let’s face it, the people who hate the idea of a name change are going to hate this new logo. A quick scan of the sort of language in the comments sections from people against the change points to the fact that it looking Māori probably isn’t going to help much either.
So here we are, only two months out from Super Rugby starting again and the biggest off-field issue in the competition’s season this year is just as much of an issue now as it was in March. It’ll be even bigger next March, and it’s notable that the Crusaders are spending the weekend of the 15th away playing against the Sunwolves in Tokyo. The big match of that weekend is a replay of the Chiefs against the Hurricanes in Hamilton, which was the fixture that went ahead in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
There will be tributes, moments of silence and reflection on that day. There will also be debate about the name –that’s not going to go anywhere. The Crusaders can’t seem to see that it doesn’t actually matter if they’re right or wrong on this one, regardless of what their fans think. No one is going to forget this because we have an annual reminder of it from now on.
They had an opportunity to completely break from something that’s going to hang around their necks, but all today has done is make it even harder to understand why they haven’t.
Jamie Wall’s new book Heroics & Heartbreak: Twelve Months with the All Blacks, goes on sale December 3