Rob Howley. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

Former Wales Backs Coach Howley Banned After Making Over 360 Bets

Rob Howley has been banned from rugby for 18 months, with nine months suspended, after betting on over 360 games including Wales matches.

Howley’s suspension is backdated to his withdrawal from Wales’ World Cup campaign, on 16 September 2019, so he can resume his career on June 16th 2020 having accepted the charges.

Wales’ former backs coach was found by a panel to have placed 363 bets, including 1,163 matches, but lost £4,000 during the period from 14 November, 2015 to 7 September 2019.

The 49-year-old, who left the Wales training camp in Japan just days before their opening Rugby World Cup game in September, used his Welsh Rugby Union phone and email account to place bets.

Howley had been linked with a job with the Italian RFU after the Rugby World Cup having been assistant during former head coach Warren Gatland’s tenure.

The report said: “It is clear that Mr Howley’s betting on rugby was part of a hobby of betting on spot events.

“We use the word ‘hobby’ with some caution because it seems that a trigger for My Howley’s betting activity was a family tragedy involving the death of his sister.

“While we are prepared to accept the trigger for Mr Howley’s betting on sporting events has its seeds in personal family tragedy, it is much more difficult to understand why he chose to bet on rugby which he knew was prohibited rather than other sport exclusively, which of course was perfectly permissible.”

Howley admitted to placing bets on 24 “connected events”, which were games involving Wales or Wales players.

They included two on players, including on who would be the first try-scorer in Wales matches, with one of the games the Grand Slam win over Ireland in Cardiff in March 2019.

Howley said neither player had any knowledge of the bets and the duo also said they had no knowledge of the events when interviewed by investigators.

While the investigation was under way, Gatland said Howley had “been through hell” and WRU chairman Gareth Davies said they had been in regular contact with the former Wales captain.

Howley told the investigating panel he has not placed any bets since September 2019 and was confident the help of a consultant psychologist would stop him from betting in the future.

A WRU statement said: “After a thorough and detailed investigation by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Howley’s case was heard in Cardiff by an independent panel, chaired by Sir Wyn Williams. The panel has submitted its decision, which has been shared with World Rugby.

“Howley was withdrawn from his duties with Wales ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup as soon as the WRU became aware of a potential breach of regulations and an investigation was immediately launched.

“No further comment will be made by the WRU or Rob Howley on this subject at this time and media are requested to please respect his privacy and that of his family with this in mind.”

Howley has 14 days to appeal the decision.


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