The news that St. Esteve rugby league player Hedi Ouedjdi has been banned for life by the French Rugby Federation will come as absolutely no surprise to those who saw footage of his abhorrent offence last month.
After being dismissed from St. Esteve’s junior cup semi-final meeting with Toulouse, Ouedjdi savagely lashed out at referee Benjamin Casty, knocking him completely unconscious with a single right hand. Ouedjdi also threw a barrage of punches at a Toulouse player who confronted him in the aftermath of the attack, causing an ugly fracas on the pitch.
The game was subsequently abandoned, as Casty was transported to hospital.
“The player not only undermined the physical integrity of a referee, Benjamin Casty, but also tainted the image of a sport that had not experienced such a reprehensible act,” a spokesman for the FFR XIII said after the ban was handed down(via The Telegraph).
“FFR XIII is determined not to grant any forgiveness to players, leaders or supporters who do not respect the decisions of a referee, whose difficult role is measured every weekend.”
Not only has Ouedjdi been slapped with the ultimate ban by the French governing body, he could also face a lawsuit, with The Telegraph reporting that Casty is bringing a civil complaint against the player. The official was treated for injuries to his jaw and cheekbone after the attack, but reports from France suggest he did not suffer a fracture of any kind.
Following the incident, St. Esteve club president Christian Cozza claimed that he had not wanted Ouedjedi to play in the game due to prior disciplinary issues.
“This player had already been suspended four games earlier in the season and I did not want him to play,” he said.
Cozza was so upset by the incident that he announced his resignation.
According to The Independent, St. Esteve are a feeder side for the Catalans Dragons, the only non-English side who play in the Betfred Super League. The Perpignan outfit, who are actually captained by referee Benjamin Casty’s brother Remi, a French international prop forward, currently lie 8th in the Super League having played 12 matches.