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James Child one of three former referees to return to the sport

James Child has returned to The RFL and the sport of rugby league.

Former Super League referees James Child, Ian Smith and Matt Thomason are all to return to the sport in a reshuffle confirmed by Phil Bentham.

The RFL’s Head of Match Officials Bentham confirmed that the trio would return to rugby league as Match Officials reviewers.

This involves reviewing the performance of current officials across the sport each week, as Bentham tries to improve the standard of refereeing across the game.

Former Super League referee Bentham was appointed RFL Head of Match Officials last month, having worked in football since retirement from rugby league officiating. He is tasked with improving officiating and the much-maligned Super League disciplinary system.

Phil Bentham brings James Child back to The RFL

James Child is back in rugby league.

James Child. Credit: Imago Images

The return of Child, Smith and Thomason is one of several changes Bentham has already made in his new role, with the experienced Andy Smith appointed as a new full-time touch judge coach in the Match Officials Department.

Bentham spoke to the official RFL website on the recent appointments and how they will guide the current set of referees across the game in the UK.

“I am delighted that Andy has joined our department full-time, and that James, Ian and Matt are also back in the team,” Bentham said.

“All four bring a wealth of experience, covering many match officials’ roles, and will provide invaluable feedback and coaching to our officials.”

The RFL in good hands?

It appears that Phil Bentham is starting to make some sensible changes since his appointment last month, following a tumultuous time at the top of The RFL’s officiating team in recent years.

Bringing back Child makes sense given his experience at the top level, with the former Super League referee very vocal on the challenges he faced during his career since retirement.

Another who has been very vocal is Ian Smith, another former Super League referee whose X (Twitter) account is closely followed by many as he regularly addresses decisions made in matches each week.

Given how the majority of what Smith says on social media makes a lot of sense to fans and also the fact he also refereed at the top level, it’s another appointment that will provide value to The RFL’s growing backroom team – another good decision by Bentham.

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