New Zealand rugby team Canterbury Crusaders under pressure to change name after mosque shootings

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A fan cheers for the Canterbury Crusaders, the world’s most successful rugby franchise. (AFP)
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A Crusaders Horseman rides before the start of the Super Rugby final match between the Canterbury Crusaders of New Zealand and the Golden Lions of South Africa at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on August 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019

New Zealand rugby team Canterbury Crusaders under pressure to change name after mosque shootings

  • The Canterbury Crusaders has won the Super Rugby Championship nine times since the competition began in 1996
  • Christchurch is the major city in the Canterbury region of New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The world’s most successful rugby franchise is under pressure to change its name following the mosque shootings in Christchurch.
The Canterbury Crusaders has won the Super Rugby Championship nine times since the competition began in 1996. The championship involved teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa at the beginning, but has since included a team from Argentina and one from Japan.
Christchurch is the major city in the Canterbury region of New Zealand.
After the killing of 50 people at two Christchurch mosques on Friday, commentators have called for the Crusaders to change name.
To critics, the name carries undertones of religious war and hatred. The Crusades refer to the religious wars between Christians and Muslims in part to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. Eight major Crusades occurred between 1096 and 1291.
The Crusaders rugby team logo features a sword-wielding Knight. At the start of each home game in Christchurch, men dressed as crusading Knights ride horses on to the field to the tune of Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis.
Christchurch-based writer James Dann was one of the first to call for a name change for the region’s treasured rugby team.
“I don’t see how the Crusaders can ever play a match under that name in this city again,” he wrote on Twitter.

 

 

He described the Crusaders as “a symbol of white rage against Muslims”, adding that “We don’t have to find a new name for them yet. We all know that they represent Canterbury. The search for a new name could be a chance for the region to reflect on the trauma of the last decade, and choose something that reflects our strength, and dare I say, resilience.”
Paul Thompson, chief executive of Radio New Zealand, the country’s public broadcaster, chimed in, tweeting that: “The Crusaders have to change their name, and change it now,” Thompson wrote on Twitter.

 

 

The editor of current affairs news outlet Newsroom, Tim Murphy, wrote on Twitter: “It’s easy for the Crusaders to drop that absurd name – just change it to the Champions.”

 

 

In response, Crusaders management released a statement saying the name was “a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community”.
The name was not “a religious statement”.
“Like all New Zealanders, the Crusaders team and organisation are deeply shocked by this tragedy and our thoughts primarily are with the victims and their families right now. This is bigger than rugby and we’re absolutely heartbroken for our wider community, which is where our thoughts are at this point in time.
The statement continued: “In terms of the Crusaders name, we acknowledge and understand the concerns that have been raised. For us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community, and certainly not a religious statement. What we stand for is the opposite of what happened in Christchurch yesterday; our crusade is one for peace, unity, inclusiveness and community spirit.
“This team and the wider organisation are united with our community in standing against such abhorrent acts as that which occurred [on Friday] in Christchurch, and in standing in support of our Muslim community.

 

 

 

A gunman walked into the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and opened fire with a semi-automatic gun. He livestreamed the attack. A second shooting took place not long after at another mosque in the city.
Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant - who has travelled to Europe and visited crusader sites - has been charged with murder after the attacks.

 


NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

Updated 08 August 2020

NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

  • Orlando and Washington are last two teams contending for one spot in the East
  • The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: The NBA playoff picture is getting a little clearer.
Brooklyn secured one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference on Friday, defeating Sacramento 119-106. That leaves Orlando and Washington as the last two teams contending for one spot in the East, with the Magic needing only one more win or one Wizards loss to clinch.
Orlando and Washington were both playing later Friday.
For the Nets, the clinching comes as something to savor in a topsy-turvy season.
Kevin Durant couldn’t play at all because of his recovery from Achilles surgery — yet still got a $1 million contract bonus because Brooklyn made the postseason. Kyrie Irving missed much of the year because of injury, the Nets had several regulars opt out of participating in the restart, changed coaches in March and have used 24 players so far this season.
“It’s great to punch our own ticket into the playoffs,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I joked with the guys: I like my laundry being done, but nothing like doing your own laundry.”
The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close, with teams vying to grab the No. 8 spot and play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. If the eighth- and ninth-place teams are within four games of one another when the seeding game schedule ends next week, there will be a two-game series to determine who gets the last playoff spot.
Should that series take place, the ninth-place team would have to go 2-0 in a best-of-two series to advance.
Memphis remained alone in eighth, after the Grizzlies snapped a four-game bubble losing streak by beating Oklahoma City on Friday 121-92. The Grizzlies are one game ahead of Portland in the West standings.
“We channeled what we’ve done all season long,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We played Grizzlies basketball. Grizzlies basketball equals Grizzlies wins, more often than not. We hadn’t done that in the first four games.”
San Antonio leaped idle Phoenix into 10th in the West by beating Utah 119-111, with the Spurs improving to 3-2 in the bubble. The Spurs (30-38) are one game behind Portland in the standings.
“At the end of the day, we can’t control what they’re doing,” Spurs center Jakob Poeltl said. “We can only control what we’re doing. We’re going to take every game as it comes. We’re going to try to win every game.”
Phoenix, Sacramento and New Orleans remain in the mix for a play-in series spot. The Suns, who are 4-0 at Disney, play Miami on Saturday.