Wales rugby coach sent home for alleged betting offences

17 September 2019

Rob Howley, backs coach for the Wales national rugby union team, has been sent home from the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan amid suspected betting rule breaches, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has announced.

The decision to send Howley home was announced just six days before Wales' first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, against Georgia.

An investigation has been launched in light of recent information passed to the WRU, it said. The coach, who is seen as a key lieutenat to head coach Warren Gatland, has cooperated fully with initial discussions and will return to Wales in order to assist further with the investigation, it added.

Although further information could not be provided, the WRU said “if required, an independent panel will be appointed to hear the case.”

According to World Rugby regulation 6.3.1, “no connected person shall, directly or indirectly, bet and/or attempt to bet on the outcome or any aspect of any connected event and/or receive and/or attempt to receive part or all of the proceeds of any such bet and/or any other benefit in relation to a bet.”

World Rugby regulations add that any figure in the sport suspected of breaching anti-corruption rules may face an investigation led by the anti-corruption officer and a provisional suspension during the time of the investigation.

The penalty for a person found guilty of a betting-related offense depends on the offense. Engaging in “prohibited betting” can result in only a warning if the person in question did not place a bet, but holds a maximum penalty of a five year suspension.

Howley received 59 caps for Wales and two for the British and Irish Lions during his playing career before his appointment as a Wales assistant coach in 2007. He served as Wales’s caretaker head coach on two separate occasions: from June 2012 until March 2013 — when he won the Six Nations — and from November 2016 to March 2017. He also served as attack coach for the British and Irish Lions during their 2009 and 2013 tours, and is due to leave his role with the Welsh national team following the conclusion of the World Cup. 

Stephen Jones, who was due to replace Howley as backs coach after the tournament, will take his place in Japan.