Robert Hicks stands down as full-time match official

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Robert Hicks has retired as a full-time match official to take up a new role as Director of Operations and Legal at the RFL.

Hicks, 40 was the video referee for England’s win over France, his final full-time appointment.

He will continue as a part-time official, with a focus on offering support to developing young talent.

Hicks said: I’ve loved being part of the full-time officials squad, as much for the team spirit and togetherness as for the big matches I’ve been involved in.

“But this is the right time and reason for me to revert to a part-time and mentoring role, allowing me to devote the majority of my time to Operations and Legal.

“I think there’s been a significant change in attitudes towards match officials in recent weeks as an awareness has spread throughout the sport that the level of abuse, whether verbal or occasionally physical, is completely unacceptable – and is doing real damage to the challenging areas of referee recruitment and retention.

“One of my main priorities in the new role this winter will be a fresh focus on the RFL’s Enjoy the Game and Respect campaigns – it’s so important that all of us in the sport support our officials in this regard.”

ABUSE: RFL call meeting to address match official abuse and touchline behaviour

Hicks’ new role will cover all areas of regulation, from the community game to Super League.

He has been a full-time official since 2011, having previously spent five seasons on the Grade 1 list.

New appointments to the full-time match officials squad are expected soon.

Steve Ganson, the RFL’s Head of Match Officials, said: “In thanking and congratulating Robert for his contribution as a full-time official for the last decade.

“I’m also delighted that his knowledge and experience will still be available to us, both as a referee and touch-judge, and as a mentor to younger officials.

“He has been a key figure in our full-time group and is liked and respected by match officials at all levels, for his love of the sport and his commitment to it.”

LOSS: The referee drain: does rugby league have a match officials crisis?


  1. As a wife of an ex referee, I don’t blame you! The abuse they receive ( yes I have witnessed racism!) is completely unnecessary. We have been escorted out of the ground by the police and the utter disrespect of the officials is awful.
    I wish you well, good luck in your new role.

  2. The strange thing in this is that having witnessed at first hand how pathetic Ganson was on as he made it too the top
    He refused to report a use from a parent as it might stop HIS progress back in 1996

  3. Didn’t use the video referee when he should. Career declined as a top level referee after a howler in 2019 Cup final. Non been at his best since. Good luck Robert.

  4. Can’t have the game without you, thank you and well done. All the best for your future. That doesn’t mean that I am not completely biased and KNOW your totally wrong during the game.

  5. A referee who, I believe, always gave his best and performed with integrity. Did he always get it right – of course not, but that’s because he makes mistakes like all of us do. Seemed to have a lot of respect from the players, which speaks volumes. Good luck and thank you, Robert.

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