Former Super League official reveals what happened to the man who showed the first Grand Final red card to Wigan Warriors’ Ben Flower

Earlier this week we asked the question is ‘Ben Thaler the best Super League referee in the history of the competition?’

This came after the RFL confirmed to us that Thaler was still in the mix for Super League games but being preferred for Championship fixtures despite his pedigree.

With 21 years of experience 17 of which were in Super League as he took charge of the 2015 Grand Final, the 2015 Challenge Cup Final and the 2017 Million Pound game.

Of course, plenty of people had differing opinions one of which was fellow former Super League referee Ian Smith who commented that he felt Phil Bentham was the best in the history of the competition.

Bentham officiated over 300 games in Super League from 2005-18 and was in the man in the middle for the 2011 and 2014 Grand Finals meaning he was the first man to show a red card in a Grand Final sending Ben Flower off just minutes into the 2014 decider between Wigan Warriors and St Helens.

He was also the video referee in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2017 finals meaning he came up with the controversial call to award Lee Smith’s try which clinched Leeds Rhinos’ historic threepeat in 2009 when the centre appeared offside but was indeed onside in the letter of the law with both feet behind the ball and not the man as was misconstrued by some at the time.

A Challenge Cup Final referee in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 as well as at international level, he did it all and is certainly a good shout as Super League’s greatest ever referee. But what’s happened to him since and is he still in the game?

Well Ian Smith also revealed what happened to him in recent years.

He revealed that Bentham had left the RFL match official department 15 months ago before describing him as “a great bloke and an outstanding official and refs coach.”

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