Super League referee James Child explains decision to hang up his whistle for good

JAMES CHILD has announced his decision to stand down from the full-time Match Officials squad in 2023.

The 39-year-old became one of a select group to have officiated at four Rugby League World Cups with his involvement in this autumn’s competition, and his list of major match appearances as a referee also includes the 2017 Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, and the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup Final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The majority of his major matches have been as a touch judge, an impressive list which includes five Challenge Cup Finals, eight Super League Grand Finals, seven World Club Challenges and two World Cup Finals (2008 and 2013).

He was also video referee in two Challenge Cup Finals, one Grand Final and a World Club Challenge.

He racked up a remarkable total of 333 Super League fixtures as a referee, not counting touch judge and video refereeing appointments – signing off in lively style in the feisty Play-Off between Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos in Perpignan.

Having joined the RFL’s Grade One list in 2008 at the unusually young age of 24, and moved to the full-time squad two years later, James played a significant role in the development of younger match officials, in seven years as a Match Officials Manager from 2011-17 coaching touch judges at Championship / League One level.

He also won widespread admiration in early 2021 when he broke new ground for a Rugby League referee by appearing on the BBC’s LGBT Sport podcast.

James Child said: “I’ve been refereeing since I was 11 so this was a tough decision to make, but it’s the right time for a variety of reasons.

“I have always combined my role as a match official with my profession as a Chartered Surveyor, and after 17 years with Leeds City Council I’m joining the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment company, CBRE, as an Associate Director in their Development Advisory team – based in the Leeds office, but working across the North of England.

“I’m not sure at this stage whether I’ll be staying involved in Rugby League in an active capacity but I will remain a passionate supporter of the sport I have always loved, and will always bang the drum.

“I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and memories throughout my years in the sport. To be appointed for a major match is an honour and a responsibility – and to be in the middle for the Challenge Cup Final this summer was a special moment, as the competition has so much history and I’ve been watching it all my life.”

Steve Ganson, the RFL’s Head of Match Officials, said: “James has been offered an exciting role outside the sport and we wish him well. James has been a senior member of our group and I was delighted to appoint him to referee both the Challenge Cup final in 2022 and the Grand Final in 2017. He leaves with our thanks and best wishes.”