A referee has been knocked out in one of the most violent moments seen in rugby league.

The vicious punch occurred in a French Cup juniors game between Saint-Esteve and Toulouse. 25 minutes into what was a semifinal clash, a Saint-Esteve player was sent off by referee Benjamin Casty.

The red carded player, who had just recently returned from suspension, then violently swung at Casty, knocking him out cold and causing a brawl.

The blow was so violent that Casty had to be evacuated to the hospital. He sufferred injuries to his cheekbone and jaw, but avoided a broken jaw.

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The game was immediately abandoned, and the president of the French Rugby League Federation, Marc Palanques, quickly condemned what had happened.

"I hope that the National Disciplinary Commission, which will meet on Wednesday, will be uncompromising," said Palanques.

The president of the Saint-Esteve club, Christian Cozza, is set to resign as a result of the incident.

"This player had already been suspended four games earlier in the season and I did not want him to play," said Cozza.

Saint-Esteve also face a heavy penalty for the punch, while the player involved faces a life ban from the sport.