Rob Howley Returns For Wales As Warren Gatland Wins Over WRU

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 31: Wales Rob Howley during the pre match warm up during the 2019 Under Armour Summer Series match between Wales and Ireland at Principality Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ian Cook - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Rob Howley Returns For Wales As Warren Gatland Wins Over WRU

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By Paul Jones

Rob Howley is back in Welsh rugby with Wales – four years after a ban for betting on matches forced him to stand down.

The former Wales captain has been re-appointed to his old role as assistant to Warren Gatland, re-uniting the pair ahead of the forthcoming Six Nations.

Howley, 53, has been working in Canadian rugby, but returns to work for the Welsh Rugby Union, who blocked his re-appointment when Gatland was re-hired a year ago.

Alex King (attack), Mike Forshaw (defence), Jonathan Humphreys (forwards) and Neil Jenkins (kicking) remain in the coaching set-up.

In his new role, Howley will also have special responsibility for the men’s and boys’ pathway, working closely with the new Wales Under-20s head coach Richard Whiffin.

Howley will join Whiffin at an U20s camp in Scotland next week and for training matches in the New Year before their Six Nations competition.

Whiffin succeeds Mark Jones, who stepped down from the role following the Junior World Championships last summer to take a position with Ospreys.

Howley’s last involvement with Wales was four years ago, when just days before the 2019 World Cup in Japan, he was sent home amid allegations of betting breaches.
He was subsequently banned from rugby for 18 months, nine of them suspended, by World Rugby, in December 2019.

“I have a second opportunity to do a job I’ve dedicated my working life to and I’m grateful to everyone in Welsh rugby for their acceptance and their faith in me, it’s faith I intend to repay to the best of my ability,” said Howley.

“The opportunity to work with the U20s and other pathway teams and help develop and prepare them for the challenges of international rugby is particularly exciting.

“I have been through an extremely challenging time in my life, speaking out and talking about it has enabled me to move forward.

“I will be more than happy to share my experience with others who might be experiencing tough times and I’m grateful to all of those around me who have supported me through these times.

“In Richard Whiffin, we have a very talented young coach coming in to take charge of the U20s and we have a great group of players identified already, so the future is looking really positive in Wales despite the obvious challenges of the current economic environment globally.”

Gatland – currently enjoying a break back home in New Zealand – said: “Rob is one of the most successful and experienced Welsh coaches on the international arena at the moment.

“When we lost Rob from Welsh rugby, we lost a hugely significant amount of intellectual property, knowledge of the game in Wales and of the international scene.

“I’m delighted to welcome him back into this new role. To be able to link the U20s and pathway teams up seamlessly with our strategy and planning for the national squad is going to benefit all parts of the game, including our four regional sides and their academies.

“As far as the senior men’s team is concerned we are delighted that he will be joining the 2024 coaching team and it is a major coup for Welsh rugby to have secured his services once again.”

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