Engage Super League referee Ian Smith is to step down from his role as referee to take up the full-time post of Rugby League Match Officials Coach.
The opportunity arose from the role vacated by Ray Tennant and Smith is looking forward to taking on his new career challenge. He will still be working with the full-time squad but his main role will be with Co-operative Championship referees and liaising with Co-operative Championship clubs.
“I am really looking forward to my new role in the Match Officials department,” said Smith.
“For the last 12 months I have been thinking about my career after refereeing and the RFL gave me the opportunity to complete a fitness and conditioning course and a coaching course. So when Stuart Cummings offered me this opportunity I jumped at the chance to move into coaching.
“The coaching role gives me a new challenge which I am really excited about and I can’t wait to get started. It allows me to get involved with the development of Match Officials as a group and individuals to hopefully coach them to the top level.
“I hope my experience will help me have a positive impact on the role and prove helpful to part-time and younger referees that will be eager to learn. I have been a grade one referee since 1998 and officiated in excess of 350 first grade matches including 270 Super League matches over 12 years.
“I have plenty of experience of coming through the ranks and reaching the top level which I hope the younger referees can relate to.”
Smith’s new role will leave a vacancy in the full-time referees squad but Match Officials Director Stuart Cummings knows that the 44-year-old official will thrive under his new role.
“Ian has always worked well with junior officials,” said Cummings. “His experience of refereeing at the top level for such a long time will bring valuable recent game experience to the Championship.
“Ian’s officiating will be missed at Super League level but the vacancy does give other people the opportunity to step up and take on the role.”
The RFL will announce the Match Officials squad for 2011 at the end of the year.