Wales Rugby Coach Sent Home from World Cup over Betting Allegations

  • Rob Howley allegedly breached World Rugby rules on betting
  • The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) did not give specifics of the alleged offense
  • Governing body was informed by one of the gambling industry’s integrity units
  • Departure comes just five days before Wales play its first game in the World Cup
Silhouettes of Welsh supporters against rugby pitch.
Rob Howley has been sent home from the World Cup for allegedly breaching World Rugby betting rules. [Image: Shutterstock]

Big blow for Wales

Rob Howley, an attack coach for the Welsh rugby union team, has been sent home from the World Cup in Japan after allegations of betting misconduct.

The former Welsh captain allegedly violated World Rugby laws relating to anti-corruption and betting. 

The 48-year-old’s departure is a massive blow to the Welsh team ahead of its first game in the World Cup against Georgia in just five days. 

Breach of betting rules

According to a statement issued by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), “Rob Howley has returned to Wales to assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby Regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union.”

This regulation states that no person with a connection in any way to a given event, whether directly or indirectly, can try to bet on the outcome or other aspects of an event, or receive proceeds from such a bet.

Details of the investigation

The WRU did not give any more specific details as it does not want to add any prejudice to the investigation. It did confirm that Howley was fully cooperating with the initial discussions. An independent panel will be hearing the case, but the investigation will still be led by the WRU. 

WRU did not receive the news until the team had already departed for Japan

The WRU was initially made aware of these allegations against its attack coach after being contacted by an integrity team within the gambling sector. It was informed about a potential issue on Wednesday. This was the same day the Welsh rugby team and management flew out to Japan. 

The WRU did not receive the news until the team had already departed for Japan from Heathrow Airport. It has since put in place a support network for Howley, who is said to be devastated. 

It was on Friday that the WRU received more information regarding the alleged breach. The WRU subsequently sent word to World Rugby. This led to the beginning of a formal investigation. 

Who is Rob Howley?

Howley is a well-respected coach who was set to finish with Wales following this year’s World Cup. There have been rumors linking Howley to the Italy head coaching job. Current head coach Conor O’Shea is likely to depart the role in 2020. 

Howley had an illustrious career as a player, playing 59 times for Wales as a scrum-half. He was captain for 22 of these games. Howley also was selected for the 1997 and 2001 British and Lions tours. He made appearances in the first two tests of the 2001 tour to Australia.

He has been an attack coach for the Welsh rugby team under Warren Gatland since 2008. In 2013, Gatland took a break as Wales head coach as he was taking the British and Irish Lions team that summer. Howley stepped in as head coach and helped Wales win the Six Nations.

Howley also was the attack coach for the 2009, 2013 and 2017 British and Irish Lions tours. 

Replacement on the way

After the sudden departure of Howley, former Wales and British and Irish Lions out-half Stephen Jones joined the Wales squad in Japan. He will take over the role of attack coach for the World Cup.