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“If I was in the job earlier” – Head of Referees confirms popular change for Super League 2025

Phil Bentham, the ex Super League official and newly-appointed Head of Referees at the RFL, has spoken about the likely chances that two highly popular NRL officiating concepts will be introduced in 2025, even claiming that if he’d been appointed earlier then he’d have implemented them for 2025.

Bentham was a long-serving Super League official and only earlier this year he took on the role with the RFL as Head of Referees. A fortnight ago, he spoke to the media to outline plans for the future whilst also assessing the season’s current new implementations.

One of those is the new video referee system with the 2024 season marking the first to have had a video referee at every Super League game with the new TV deal allowing for that to be possible.  Bentham’s assessment was that whilst it has worked so far, further improvements could still be made.

He even suggested that fans in stadiums could and maybe should be able to listen in on the conversation, arguing: “Why can we not have a conversation between two people who are experts, one on the ground and one with all the replays.”

This week though, he has spoken to the BBC Radio 5 Live Rugby League podcast to confirm to reaffirm that the Captain’s Challenge is a work in progress for 2025, as well as another popular NRL-based idea.

Super League set to follow NRL example once again

Wigan Warriors' Liam Byrne listens to the referee explain his decision. Super League

Credit: Imago Images

Last week, Bentham confirmed that the Captain’s Challenge is in the works and he’s spoken on it again including why it wasn’t viable prior to this current season.

He told the BBC’s Tanya Arnold and former England international Kevin Brown: “You can’t have a captain’s challenge when four games are not on telly because the competition is really really unfair then.

“Now we’ve got it, we’ve got to use it to the best ability and everybody seems to love the concept of a captain’s challenge.”

He beamed on what a brilliant concept it is, going as far as to say:  “Even from a ref’s point of view, it’s great because if you come off the field and you’ve not been challenged on something you can say, ‘Well none of the players even spotted it, how’d you expect me to spot it?’

“Sometimes, even the player involved in the tackle doesn’t even know that he’s lost the ball as opposed to it being stolen. So it works both ways and it’ll be a great addition.”

Do referees rely on the video referee too much?

Credit: Imago Images

Some of the fresher information from Bentham revolved around a much-maligned practice in Super League which is referees going to the video ref on a regular basis. It was certainly something that Kevin Brown is sick of as he asked Bentham why it couldn’t be changed.

Brown asked: “I think we do lose a little bit of the celebration too by giving to the video ref so many times. Sometimes, it’s a clear try so why do we take that moment away from the fans and the players?

“Can we not let that roll like The Bunker do in Australia and have a look at it behind the scenes?”

On that, Bentham responded positively: “It’s a brilliant idea that we are already looking at for next year. If we just give a try and then whilst they’re setting up for a conversion, we can have a quick look.

“If everything’s clear it’s clear, if it’s not then we’ll pause the conversion and we’ll traditionally go to the video or have to make a decision.

“That’s got to be better, it’s better timewise and allows fans to celebrate. When the referee points for the try, it’s much more exciting than him going to the screen, isn’t it?

“Both that and the captain’s challenge will definitely work and it’s a work in progress for us ready for next season.

“If I’d been in the job earlier, I’d have probably done it for this season if I’m honest. But we can’t change it halfway through, unfortunately.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brian Woodward

    May 17, 2024 at 10:03 am

    Referees should not send it up as try or no try instead ask is there any reason why I should not award the try.

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