Jessica earns her stripes as a Wembley referee

Wigan Warriors superfan Jessica Marsh with club skipper Sean Loughlin and Hull skipper Gareth Ellis
Wigan Warriors superfan Jessica Marsh with club skipper Sean Loughlin and Hull skipper Gareth Ellis
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The Challenge Cup was a tough day for Wigan Warriors supporters, but it was a once in a lifetime experience for super-fan Jessica Marsh.

Nine-year-old Wigan fan Jessica won the Rugby Football League’s ‘fifth official’ competition for Saturday’s cup final.

Her dad Jonathan Lumb, who takes Jessica to games at the DW Stadium on a regular basis, saw the competition on social media and entered Jessica’s name, who wanted to use the experience to better her knowledge of rugby league and its rules.

She was notified that she had won the competition by Super League referee Chris Campbell, who surprised her and her dad at their home with tickets.

Jessica said: "I feel so lucky to have been picked, it was a dream come true. I have the best dad for helping me enter the competition."

Jessica was given a private guided tour of Wembley Stadium and presented with an authentic referees match day kit, bag, and even red and yellow cards.

Jonathan, 35, said: "Jessica absolutely loved it.

"I was in tears at how proud I was of her; the whole experience was just amazing.

"It was unreal to see so many people at Wembley Stadium watching and chanting whilst she was on the pitch."

Jessica said: "I love rugby and go to watch Wigan play as much as I can. Even though we didn’t win I am still proud of the team for getting as far as they did."

As well as receiving a signed match programme by referee Phil Bentham, touch judges Chris Kendall and Jack Smith and video referee, James Child, dad Jonathan got Jessica a match ball signed by an array of Wigan legends including coach Shaun Wane.

Partnerships Manager for the RFL, Bobby Bahadori, said: "We hope Jessica had a fantastic experience and enjoyed her day."

The 2017 Challenge Cup Final saw Hull FC beat Wigan Warriors 18-14 to secure back-to-back titles for the Yorkshire club.