PHIL Bentham has been appointed as the RFL’s new Head of Match Officials.

He will return to the sport after two years working at the top level of football with the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL), having previously refereed in the Super League for 14 seasons from 2005-18, and then working as a Match Officials coach until March 2021.

He will begin work following a period of transition from his current role, and will attend tonight's opening match of the 2024 Betfred Super League season between Hull FC and Hull KR at the MKM Stadium.

Phil Bentham: “I’m delighted to take up this role as RFL Head of Match Officials. It's a great time to be returning to Rugby League, as the sport moves into a really exciting period.

“We will be committed, as a team, to raising officiating standards at all levels, from the Community game to the Men’s and Women’s Super Leagues, whilst being open and transparent to allow a better understanding of officiating.

"I'd like to place on record my thanks to PGMOL for the opportunity to work and learn in elite level football and look forward to sharing ideas with them in the future.”

Robert Hicks, the RFL’s Director of Operations who has also assumed Executive responsibility for the department in 2024, said: “After a recruitment process involving a number of highly impressive candidates from a range of Rugby League competitions and other sports, we are pleased to confirm Phil Bentham’s return to Rugby League.

“The demands of this high-profile position are constantly evolving, and we recognise there will be greater scrutiny for all match officials in 2024 with the new laws and interpretations that are in place - as well as having video referees at every Betfred Super League fixture thanks to the sport’s new broadcast partnership with Sky Sports.

“Phil’s experience of elite football has focused primarily on their VAR communication, as well as assisting with the training and development of VARs across PGMOL.

“There is an obvious relevance to the new challenges we are facing in Rugby League this season, while Phil’s considerable Rugby League experience means he is relishing the involvement in officiating at all levels of the sport.

“I would like to place on record the RFL’s gratitude to Dave Elliott for the contribution he has made as interim Head of Match Officials for the last 13 months – we have already stressed to him that we would like him to stay within the department and retain a key role as we move forward.”