Full Time Match Officials

Phil Bentham

Bentham, 45, was a late starter to officiating, but soon rose through the ranks to become one of nine full time Rugby League Match Officials today.

Having started in his 20s, the Leigh-born referee's first professional game was Sheffield against London Skolars in Sheffield on February 22, 2004, with his first Super League game coming a year later when he took charge of Hull FC's trip to Wakefield on September 11, 2005.

Bentham's major achievements include refereeing the 2011 and 2014 Super League Grand Finals, alongside the 2011, 2013 and 2014 Challenge Cup Finals.

He also took charge of the 2015 World Club Series game between Wigan Warriors and Brisbane Broncos.

Internationally, he took charge of games in the 2011 Four Nations and 2013 World Cup, while refereeing the 2014 Four Nations Final in New Zealand.

Chris Campbell

Campbell, appointed to the full time team in May 2016, enjoyed a successful playing career at Warrington Wolves, Rochdale Hornets, Whitehaven and Oldham before retiring from the professional game in 2011.

He went on to achieve success as a player-coach with National Conference League side Warrington Wizards shortly after and, following some persuasion from his father Dave, who took charge of the 1994 Challenge Cup final, he took up the whistle in late 2011 and refereed in the National Conference League during the 2012 season.

2013 saw Chris move to referee in the Academy Under 19s competition and also officiate as an in goal judge at Super League level.

His first professional game then came in April 2014 in Kingstone Press League 1 match between South Wales Scorpions, before he quickly became a mainstay of the top flight in 2016 after making his First Utility Super League debut in a match between Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Warrington in May that year.

James Child

Child became one of the sport's youngest referees in the professional game when he took charge of Gateshead Thunder's home clash with Workington Town on April 17, 2006, aged 23.

A member of the Dewsbury and Batley Rugby League Referee's Society, Child has a wide array of major fixtures to his name having been a touch judge for the 2006 Challenge Cup Final before running the line in the 2008 World Cup Final.

He was made a Grade One referee in 2008 and took charge of his first Super League match in March the following year as Wakefield Trinity Wildcats took on Catalans Dragons, becoming a full time official in 2010.

Joe Cobb

Cobb became the first product of the RFL's Cadet Programme to be appointed as a full-time referee, stepping up in June 2015.

The 28-year-old began refereeing as a teenager and spent time as an official in the Kingstone Press Championship before going on to take charge of a handful of First Utility Super League matches in 2015, including at Newcastle's Magic Weekend when he officiated in Castleford Tigers' game with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

Cobb ran the line for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Challenge Cup finals at Wembley and in the World Club Series of 2015 and 2016, after running the line for games during the Rugby League World Cup in 2013.

Robert Hicks

Hicks, 34, became a Super League referee in 2010 on the back of respected career outside the top flight. The Oldham-born official is also the RFL’s Legal & Compliance Manager.

He was touch judge for the 2010, 2011 & 2014 Challenge Cup Finals, the 2013 and 2014 Super League Grand Finals and 2014 Four Nations Final, whilst taking charge of the Northern Rail Cup Final and the Championship Grand Final in 2010.

The same year saw Hicks named as the Championship's Referee of the Year, nine years on from picking up the National Conference League Referee of the Year award.

A Leeds University graduate and qualified Solicitor, Hicks is also a member of the Oldham Referees Society.

Chris Kendall

The 23-year-old became a full-time Match Official in July 2015 as the second successful product of the RFL's Cadet Programme, which was introduced in 2014 to create a pool of officials capable of operating in the First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship, to complement the existing full-time referees. 

Kendall, a former Rugby League player from the Huddersfield Giants Academy, made his senior officiating debut in July 2013 when he took charge of South Wales Scorpions against Gateshead Thunder at the age of just 21.

He has also been a regular touch judge at First Utility Super League matches since making his debut as Harlequins took on St Helens in 2012. 

Kendall refereed his first Super League game when Warrington played Hull FC in 2015 and also took charge of the Kingstone Press League 1 Promotion Final between Swinton Lions and Keighley Cougars later that season.

This year, Kendall will look to build on a strong 2015 which ended in him refereeing Scotland's European Championship fixture with Ireland and touch-judging the Americas World Cup Qualifiers in Florida.

Scott Mikalauskas

Scott Mikalauskas, of the Leigh Referees Society, joined the full time team in September 2016 and made his Super League debut in Wigan's Round 1 Super 8s clash against Wakefield at the DW Stadium in August.

He played for North West Men's League Division One outfit Golborne Parkside, until the 2016 season, making four appearances, alongside winning the NWML Trophy and Division Two title in 2015.

The 27-year-old, who scored three tries in ten appearances for the club in 2015, took up refereeing in February 2009 and progressed quickly, taking charge of the under 15s Lancashire Cup Final within six months as well as being a touch judge in a Reserve fixture between Warrington and Leeds.

After progressing in the National Conference League and Super League Academy, Mikalauskas refereed his first Challenge Cup game in 2012 when Hunslet Warriors took on Whitehaven.

He went on to become a regular at Kingstone Press League 1 and Championship fixtures and refereed the iPro Sport Cup Final between Keighley Cougars and York City Knights at the Summer Bash in May 2016.

Jack Smith

Jack Smith joined the full time team in September 2016 after making his Super League debut as Hull FC hosted Widnes Vikings in June 2016.

The 28-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise in his short time as a Match Official, but his unlikely journey to becoming a full time Match Official began six years ago in Afghanistan.

He had successful playing career in the community game with Crosfields ARLFC before joining the Royal Marines in 2008, as Smith himself explains: "I joined the Royal Marines in 2008 and finished my eight months of training in early 2009.

"From there, I joined 40 Commando Royal Marines and started pre-deployment training for a six month operational tour in Afghanistan.

"I was deployed in March 2010 to Sangin, Helmand.

"After over five months of seeing friends killed and injured, I myself was injured.

"On 21 August 2010, I suffered a gunshot wound from a Taliban sharpshooter. I fell unconscious shortly after.

"I woke up a couple of weeks later in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where I spent a further few weeks.

"After coming out of a coma, I realised the extent of my injuries. The bullet had passed under my body armour, through my lower back, through my liver, through my diaphragm, up through my right lung and out of my chest, in doing so breaking ten ribs."

Two years of intensive rehabilitation followed, before Smith was medically discharged from the forces due to the severity of damage to his lower back and lungs.

With his playing days now over, it was then he decided to look towards taking up the whistle.

"Post-injury, it became obvious that I wouldn't be able to play again," he said.

"So, in September 2012, I attended my first refereeing course and I haven't looked back."

Smith began by taking charge of junior matches before moving to the adult game.

He refereed the 2014 National Conference League Grand Final and took charge of his first professional match in 2015.

Smith is also an ambassador for injured service personnel charity On Course Foundation and has appeared on 5 Live Breakfast, BBC Breakfast, BBC Sport and North West Tonight to tell his story.

Ben Thaler

At the age of just 19, Thaler took charge of his first professional game in 2001 as Leigh Centurions faced York Wasps at Hilton Park in a second tier clash.

The now 34-year-old was part of a New Zealand Referees exchange in 2005 and quickly moved on to Super League duty, starting with a game between London Broncos and Leigh Centurions on May 29, 2005. To date, the Dewsbury-born official has taken charge of close to 200 Super League games and 15 international ties.

He refereed the 2013 World Club Challenge between Leeds Rhinos and Melbourne Storm, two games at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and took charge of both the Challenge Cup Final and Super League Grand Final in 2015, a year which saw him named First Utility Super League's Referee of the Year.