Earlier this week we posed the following question: “Ben Thaler, the best Super League referee in the history of the competition?”.
This came after the RFL confirmed to us that Thaler was still in the mix for Super League games but was preferred for league games despite his pedigree.
With 21 years of experience including 17 in the Super League, he took charge of the 2015 Grand Final, the 2015 Challenge Cup Final and the 2017 Million Pound match.
Of course, many people had differing opinions, one of which was former Super League referee Ian Smith, who said he thought Phil Bentham was the best in the history of the competition.
Bentham refereed over 300 Super League games from 2005 to 2018 and was in the middle man for the 2011 and 2014 Grand Finals, meaning he was the first man to show a red card in a grand finale, dispatching Ben Flower minutes into the finale. Decider 2014 between Wigan Warriors and St Helens.
He was also the video referee in the 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2017 finals, meaning he made the controversial call to reward Lee Smith’s try that netted Leeds Rhinos historic treble in 2009 when the center appeared offside but was indeed onside within the letter of the law with both feet behind the ball and not the man as some misinterpreted at the time.
A Challenge Cup Final referee in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 as well as at international level, he has done it all and is certainly a good shout as the Super League’s greatest referee. But what has happened to him since and is he still in the game?
Well, Ian Smith has also revealed what has happened to him over the past few years.
He revealed Bentham left the RFL official matches department 15 months ago before describing him as “a terrific guy and an outstanding coach of officials and referees”.
He left the RFL match officials department around 15 months ago. A great guy and an exceptional coach of officials and referees. ?
— Ian Smith (@Iansmith2468) July 4, 2022
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