RICHARD Silverwood, rugby league’s longest-serving full-time referee, has been suspended after becoming the subject of an internal investigation, the game’s governing body has confirmed.
The Mirfield-based official has not refereed a match since the Super League Magic Weekend in Newcastle last month and a Rugby Football League spokesman said: “I can confirm Richard Silverwood is suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation.”
Silverwood, who turns 40 on Thursday, became Super League’s youngest official when he took charge of his first game in 2001 at the age of just 24 and he refereed the 2013 World Cup final but this is not the first time he has been suspended.
In 2011, Silverwood was dropped following an off-field incident at a match between Huddersfield and Leeds and in 2009 he was suspended for what the RFL described as an alleged breach of its information technology policy.
The spokesman said Sam Ansell, 26, who is also on the RFL’s nine-strong full-time panel of match officials having joined it in January, is also currently suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.
RFL match officials director Steve Ganson has recently blooded a host of inexperienced referees in Jack Smith, Chris Kendall, Michael Woodhead and Chris Campbell, who was fast-tracked onto the full-time panel just a month after taking charge of his first Super League match, while part-time Gareth Hewer took charge of one of the weekend’s Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
The RFL last week set up a five-strong independent panel to monitor and try to raise the standard of refereeing in this country.