Is Super League set for two referees?

Super Legue and the Championship could see two referees in action at games next season, if experiments being undertaken at Academy level are successful.

Phil Bentham and Matthew Thomason trialled out the system in the Hull FC v Warrington under-19s encounter a week ago. Tim Roby and Chris Kendall continued the experiment as Castleford entertained Huddersfield on Thursday, and two days later Ben Thaler and Robert Hicks (pictured) paired up as Leeds played Hull KR at Stanningley.

“It’s an experiment to see how it works. It will probably be a different model to that used in Australia,” Thaler told this week’s League Express.

“You will still have a lead referee, maybe a Super League referee with a Championship referee in the pocket, taking more of the ruck area.

“The game at Stanningley was really, really quick. I burnt off the same amount of calories as I did on Thursday [Wakefield v Widnes Super League]. It showed that you do a lot of work as the pocket referee around the ruck.
“The key is that you have an extra set of eyes. At Hull KR recently there was a ball-steal where the touch judge and referee couldn’t see and to an extent you are guessing.”

Thaler, Hicks, the two touch judges and referees supremo Jon Sharp were all wired up, with Sharp able to listen to the conversations between the match officials.

“I have refereed for 20 years and this is a whole new experience,” added Thaler.

“A decision will be made by the RFL at board level. A further experiment will take place next week. We have to look at which model to use, the lead referee’s role, the touch judge roles and when referees switch between lead and the pocket referee.”

The experiment at Stanningley was watched by RFL officials Blake Solly and Ralph Rimmer, with referees official Steve Ganson also in attendance.

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