Ben Thaler will reach a significant refereeing milestone in Friday night’s West Yorkshire derby between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers, as he takes charge of his 400th Super League fixture.
Ben, who turns 40 later this month, is the elder statesman of the RFL’s panel of Full-Time Match Officials, having joined in 2006, with a lengthy list of major finals including the rare double of the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford in 2015.
He joined the Grade 1 list in 2001, meaning he has given two decades of service to the game.
He made his Super League debut in a match between London Broncos and Leigh Centurions on May 29, 2005.
The tally of 400 includes several Play-Offs and matches in the Super Eights (including the Million Pound Game in 2017).
It does not include the many other fixtures he has refereed in the Challenge Cup, Championship and other competitions, nor internationals and other representative matches – and also excludes his considerable experience as a video referee, both in the Super League and other representative games including the 2017 World Cup Final.
He has also played a significant part in the development of younger referees, both in the professional and community game including the National Conference League.
Steve Ganson, the RFL’s Head of Match Officials, said: “This is a remarkable achievement for Ben. To referee 400 games at the highest level in the sport will have taken a tremendous amount of personal and professional commitment to the game. Ben has a huge passion for refereeing and on behalf of the game I would like to recognise this milestone.”