The surprising role in Premier League football held by former Super League referee Phil Bentham

To many, Phil Bentham is the greatest referee in Super League history with even one of his colleagues Ian Smith recently claiming as such before noting that he left the RFL 15 months ago.

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 is the former Grand Final official doing these days. Well surprisingly, Bentham has a fairly substantial role in Premier League football as a VAR coach for the PGMOL. He has plenty of experience working as a video referee in rugby as seen by the four appearances he made as video ref in Grand Finals and therefore will no doubt be a great help to the Premier League in improving the video assisted referee system they use which has been a feature of the competition since 2019.

He provides coaching to select group 1 Premier League VARs on a 1:1 basis as well as in group training.

Bentham is also the Chair of the International Rugby League Match Review Committee and is also set to have a role in the World Cup.

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