A French rugby league player is facing a life-time ban from the sport after punching a referee in response to being shown a yellow card, knocking him unconscious and leaving him with cheekbone and jaw injuries.
The Saint-Esteve player, who has not been identified, was sent to the sin-bin during a juniors French Cup match against Toulouse by referee Benjamin Casty, brother of Catalan Dragons star Remi Casty.
The player responded by angrily confronting the referee, before launching a right hook at his face that knocked him unconscious. When opposition players asked him what he was doing, the player then started swinging punches at them, leading to a melee between the two sides.
One Toulouse player can be seen to tend to the referee, before running off to join the brawl, while one of the assistant referees soon comes to Casty’s aid.
St-Esteve president Christian Cozza confirmed that the player has already been suspended for four matches this season, and announced his resignation on social media.
“This player had already been suspended four games earlier in the season and I did not want him to play,” Cozza said.
The president of the French Federation, Marc Palanques, suggested that strong action needs to be taken against the player. He said: “I hope that the National Disciplinary Commission, which will meet on Wednesday, will be uncompromising.”
Casty was taken to a nearby hospital where he was diagnosed with cheekbone and jaw injuries, however, reports in France claim that he avoided a broken jaw and is currently recovering from the incident.
St-Esteve are one of the feeder clubs to the Catalan Dragons, France’s best rugby league side, who play in the Super League, with Remi Casty joining the club from the Sydney Roosters in 2014.