THERE may be something to be said for allowing the dust to settle and putting some time and space between crime and punishment, but the decision of the European Cup organisers to defer sentence on Pontypridd and/or, Brive following the brawling in France last weekend does not look or sound like the smack of firm government.

A four-man disciplinary panel - Roger Pickering, Peter Wheeler, Tom Kiernan, and Allan Hosie - met in Dublin on Wednesday to consider the ramifications of the on-field violence involving the Welsh champions and the holders of the European title and, more importantly, the alleged bar-room brawl which followed.

However, all that emerged from the Dublin meeting was a general warning to all sides involved in the tournament about their conduct, and a recommendation from Pickering, the tournament director, that when the full board of European Cup Ltd meets next Monday, they should impose currently unspecified sanctions against one or, maybe, both clubs.

Meanwhile, more than a week will have elapsed. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the affair - and the accusations and counter-accusations continue to flow as to who was responsible for the on and off-field violence - there is no doubt that the game has been brought into disrepute and, for that offence alone, condign punishment should have been levied swiftly, and at the first available opportunity, which was in Dublin on Wednesday.

In a statement released yesterday, Pickering was guilty of putting up a smokescreen when he chose to widen his field of fire to condemn ''a number of unsavoury incidents in some matches in the cup and conference tournaments last weekend.'' This was a reference, one assumes, to the battle which went unpunished throughout the cup game between Pau and Llanelli and the conference match between Newcastle and Perpignan when two Frenchmen were sent off.

But the main target for the ERC on Wednesday should have been the appalling battle(s) of Brive. There has to be a question-mark over the judgment of the Pontypridd players who went to a bar known to be a regular Brive haunt and huge doubts over the judgment of those in charge of the team who allowed their players to go out on the town.

Yesterday, the recriminations continued with Pontypridd manager Eddie Jones claiming that Brive had tried to sign McIntosh and co-accused Phil John hours before they were arrested. Brive chairman, Jean-Jacques Madries, countered by saying that this was nonsense. The ERC missed the chance on Wednesday to deal firmly and swiftly with the culprits and both clubs continue to bring the game into disrepute.

Meanwhile, Caledonia Reds make three changes to the side which started against Treviso last weekend for their European Cup encounter with Pau tomorrow. Right winger Neil Renton replaces the injured Shaun Longstaff, Willie Anderson comes in for Sandy Penman in the front row and Gareth Flockhart starts at No.8 in place of Martin Waite. Team:

R Shepherd; N Renton, P Rouse, A Carruthers, J Kerr; B Easson, D Patterson; J Manson, G Scott, W Anderson, J White, S Grimes, D McIvor, G Flockhart, R Wainwright, capt., Substitutes - D Officer, M Fraser, G Hayter, M Waite, S Penman, S Brown, D Herrington.

q Scotland and Stirling County centre Ian Jardine will not be fit in time for Glasgow's European Cup match against Swansea at Scotstoun on Sunday. Jardine, 32, now has his sights on a return when Glasgow play Wasps in London on Sunday week.

Glasgow make two changes in the pack to the side which played Wasps last weekend. Alan Kittle displaces Mike Beckham at prop and Steve Begley returns at lock after injury, replacing Chas Afuakwah. Team:

C Sangster; D Stark, C Simmers, M McGrandles, J Craig; T Hayes, F Stott; G McIlwham, G Bulloch, capt., A Kittle, S Begley, G Perrett, M Wallace, D McLeish, I Sinclair. Substitutes - D Ablett, G Metcalfe, C Little, F Wallace, M Beckham, D Porte, C Docherty.