The Scottish Rugby Union have indicated that they are unlikely to quietly accept the formal reprimand, £70,000 fine and demand for an apology which was issued to them at lunchtime yesterday by the global game’s governing body, following a dispute over the threat of cancellation to last month’s crucial World Cup pool match between Scotland and host nation Japan due to the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

The sanction relates to comments made by SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson to the media two days before the match was due to be played in Yokohama. Dodson stated in a radio interview and then during a press conference that he had received legal advice to the effect that the game could be moved, if necessary, to a venue away from the storm’s path.

Scotland needed to play the game and win in order to progress to the quarter-finals. A cancellation would have meant the match being recorded as a draw and Scotland dropping out the tournament at the pool stage.

In the event, the game went ahead because the storm did not impact Yokohama to the level predicted earlier in the week, and Scotland lost – which meant they were knocked out anyway – but that wasn’t the end of the matter, with tournament organisers Rugby World Cup Limited (who are a wholly owned subsidiary of World Rugby) announcing a few days later that they had filed a misconduct complaint.

The World Rugby Disciplinary Panel has now found that the SRU were guilty of “egregious behaviour, sitting towards the most serious end of the misconduct spectrum” which had “brought the game into disrepute”.

This seems fairly hysterical when measured against other possible misconduct charges such as racism, homophobia, doping and match-fixing. The panel also acknowledged that the threat of legal action, which was a key component of the case against the SRU, was inferred rather than explicitly stated.

The SRU queried whether it was appropriate to bring misconduct charges on this issue when the complaint was first made against them in mid-October, and in a tweet yesterday lunchtime they indicated that their stance has not changed, stating: “We will now reflect on this outcome and further consider all our options, which may include arbitration.”

Getting the issue in front of the Court of Arbitration in Sport [CAS] – the Swiss-based quasi-judicial body established to settle disputes related to sport – will not be straight forward. It will require World Rugby’s cooperation, which they will be reluctant to grant given that it would effectively put their own judicial process under the microscope, so it is only likely to happen if public pressure compels them to do so in order to demonstrate the robustness of their ruling.

World Rugby insisted at the time that no change of venue was possible because the rules needed to be applied consistently across all teams in the tournament. Two other pool matches – England versus France and New Zealand versus Italy – had already been cancelled, and the second of those cancellations in particular was problematic because it had killed off Italy’s faint hopes of proceeding to the quarter-finals, thus creating a precedent that Dodson was fighting against.

“We’re not going to be collateral damage for a decision taken in haste,” he stated at the time, which was one of the phrases used against him in yesterday’s ruling.

The panel was also unimpressed with Dodson suggesting that World Rugby would have responded differently had an “economic powerhouse” such as New Zealand been in the firing line.

“World Rugby strongly believed the comments, which suggested an unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams, to be inappropriate and ill-judged at a time when Japan was preparing for the largest and most destructive typhoon in decades,” said a statement from the global governing body yesterday.

It is understood that Scottish Rugby are particularly troubled by the suggestion that they did not take the human impact of the storm seriously, and it does seem that this is a cynical conflation of two issues. During his press briefing, Dodson was at pains to stress that safety was the primary concern and that he had every faith that the host nation would do everything possible to get the game on if possible.

Rugby World Cup Limited have been the focus of some pretty scathing criticism over their lack of contingency planning for the possibility of a major typhoon hitting Japan during typhoon season, but this has not yet been investigated.

“Prior to its decision, the committee gave the parties ample time to resolve the dispute,” said yesterday’s statement. “World Rugby made an open offer to the SRU which required the SRU to apologise for its conduct and make a donation to the Typhoon disaster relief fund in Japan. The SRU suggested alternative wording which included a mutual expression of regret from both parties, and no apology.”