Why would someone flatten the ref when she isn't looking and try to knock her out? Note before you answer that it doesn't matter who the ref is or what she has done prior to the hit. Actually, don't feel compelled to answer the question at all – there is no legit answer for it.
Luckily, referee Maria Beatrice Benvenuti is relatively unharmed. She suffered only whiplash – fucking whiplash – according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, and despite the nasty hit she finished refereeing the match. The perpetrator, Bruno Andres Doglioli, captain of Rangers Rugby Vicenza, has been suspended for three years.
Condemning "a deliberate act of violence towards the match referee," the Italian rugby federation (FIR) said in a statement that Doglioli had been banned "from playing any competitive sport for three years".
The 33-year-old had already been suspended by his club in midweek.
"The Italian Rugby Federation would like to reiterate that this sanction—the heaviest in the last 20 years—underlines that when it comes to infringing the rules of the game and, above all, the fundamental values of our sport, we will show zero tolerance," the FIR said.
Due to his age, there's a chance he never plays again. Which, all things considered, is good.