Crusaders open to discuss name change following shooting

The Crusaders are open to discussing a potential name change following mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 people.

The Crusaders adopted their name 23 years ago when rugby went professional but questions have been raised over its associations with the medieval religious wars between Christians and Muslims since the attacks.

The franchise, which has won a record nine Super Rugby titles, issued a statement on Saturday defending the name but chief executive Colin Mansbridge said on Sunday they were open to initiating discussions about a change, in time.

"The first thing for us is things are still fairly raw," Mansbridge told TVNZ on Sunday.

"We're in a state of shock. We'll acknowledge the feedback we've had. It is appropriate."

The death toll from the shooting, carried out by a suspected white supremacist and described by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the country's "darkest day", rose to 50 on Sunday.

Mansbridge said like other residents of Christchurch they needed time before they looked at initiating the review, which would include discussions with the Muslim community.

"In the context of what's happened it is pretty hard to sort of elevate this conversation at the moment," Mansbridge added.

"We've heard it, we've heard the feedback, and we do want to have a conversation about it."

The Christchurch-based side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday was cancelled after discussions between the teams and police.