London - Former Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has been banned from all involvement in rugby for 18 months, nine of which are suspended, after breaching anti-corruption and betting regulations, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said on Monday.
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Howley, who worked under now-departed head coach Warren Gatland,
returned home from Japan shortly before the World Cup began in September
after the WRU became aware of possible wrongdoing.
It was found that, over a four-year period from November 2015 to
September 2019, Howley placed 363 bets involving 1 163 rugby matches
with three bookmakers through accounts held under his own name.
Of the bets, 24 were placed on "connected events", some of which
involved matches in which Wales were participating. On two occasions he
bet on unnamed Wales players scoring tries.
"Howley was withdrawn from his duties with Wales ahead of the 2019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," said a
statement from the governing body.
"The suspension is backdated to the time of his initial withdrawal
from the World Cup, on the 16th September 2019, meaning Howley would be
free to return to the game on or after 16th June 2020."
In the written decision released by the WRU, it is revealed that the
former Wales and Lions scrum-half accepted the charge "without
The alarm was first raised when WRU policy and integrity manager
Jeremy Rogers was contacted by an employee of Betway, who said that
Howley had placed bets on Wales games.
At a September meeting to explain
the process for the investigation it was noted that Howley was "visibly
upset" and said: "I'm putting my hands up. If I was being evasive, I
wouldn't have used my work mobile phone and email account."
It emerged that he gambled on a Wales player to be the first try
scorer in the 25-7 Six Nations victory over Ireland in March, but the
49-year-old stated it was part of a treble bet that fell in line with
his normal recreational betting activity. He also backed another player
to score a try.
When the unnamed players were interviewed they denied any knowledge
the bets had been placed on them, with Howley supporting their
Howley conceded he knew betting on matches involving Wales was a breach of World Rugby anti-corruption and betting regulations.
The WRU found Howley made an overall loss of £4 000 during
the time period under scrutiny and described his activity as a "hobby",
while adding "we use the word hobby with some caution because it seems
that a trigger for Mr Howley's betting activity was a family tragedy
involving the death of his sister".
The former Wales captain, who has the right to appeal against the
decision, had been part of ex-head coach Gatland's coaching team since
His departure from the Wales camp in Japan threw the Six Nations'
champions' World Cup preparations into disarray but they went on to
reach the semi-finals, where they lost to South Africa.
Howley enjoyed a glittering playing career, making 59 appearances for
Wales and captaining his country on 22 occasions. He also played two
Tests for the British and Irish Lions, subsequently joining them in a