Crusaders could be poised for brand changes as they await research results

The Crusaders may soon take the first steps in rebranding their club.

Although the Crusaders and NZ Rugby are yet to receive a report from the independent research company they engaged to consult fans and stakeholders following the terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, it's understood the Super Rugby club is bracing itself to make major changes.

This could require the club to either change, or amend, its name.

A review of the club's title and imagery was approved soon after the shootings in the city, with Research First asked to provide feedback and recommendations.

On Tuesday, Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the company had yet to complete its report and forward it to his organization, but it's understood the Crusaders' power brokers are highly unlikely to ignore any recommendations to rebrand parts, or all, of the club.

The report should be completed soon. The Crusaders had earlier stated they wouldn't make any decision on what those changes will be until after the Super Rugby competition had ended on July 6.

This week Mansbridge said the Crusaders had already received some feedback from Research First.

"They are telling us a bit about what fans and sponsors and the community think about us," Mansbridge noted. "We love our community and our community loves us. That hasn't changed.

"Yes, different people have different opinions about things but there's no doubt that there's affection for the club and the club has great affection for the community it represents."

Some fans have made it clear on social media that they are against scrapping the Crusaders name, and the iconic logo of a knight raising a sword above his head, but the Crusaders and NZ Rugby are unlikely to be swayed.

One option could be to gradually integrate the changes through to 2021, when Sanzaar introduce a new competition structure.

The revamp of Super Rugby involves getting rid of the Sunwolves and replacing the conference system with a round-robin for the 14 teams.

Although the Crusaders ditched the horses and knights from their pre-game entertainment routine immediately after the massacres, they accepted there was a need to be open-minded about more changes.

At the time NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the link to knights on horseback was "untenable".

Fans and stakeholders were given three options when questioned about their perception of the "brand" by Research First.

The first option was to retain the Crusaders name but change the branding and imagery. The second was to completely rebrand the club, including the name and all imagery. The final option was to "disagree with the above two options".

The name-change pressure emerged because of the centuries-old sensitivity over the history of the Crusades, which were bloody medieval conflicts between Muslims and Christians.

Mansbridge said on April 3 that the Muslim community didn't want to be involved in the process.

"We didn't want them to be in a position where they had to ask. Frankly, they are too polite to say what they feel," Mansbridge said.