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Howley lost £4,000 after family tragedy acted as 'trigger' for betting

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Getty Images)

A family tragedy may have been a trigger for the betting habit that saw former Wales coach Rob Howley banned from the sport for at least nine months.


Howley was slapped with an 18-month ban, with nine months suspended, after breaching World Rugby Anti-corruption and Betting Regulations – known as regulation 6.

In a detailed WRU report into Howley’s betting ‘hobby’, a panel heard how the former Welsh scrumhalf amounted losses of at least £4,000 over the period of just under four years.

The report read: “Of those bets a comparatively small percentage was placed upon matches involving Wales and on two occasions bets were placed on players representing Wales.

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“We are also satisfied that Mr Howley made no gains, overall, from these bets. In fact WRU assess that overall Mr Howley made losses of approximately £4,000. It is also clear that Mr Howley’s betting on rugby was part of a “hobby” of betting on sporting events.”

The report revealed that the death of Howley’s sister may have trigged the habit that has cost the 49-year-old his livelihood, for nine months at least.

“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. Nonetheless, Mr Howley’s behaviour was presented to us as being part of his recreational activities and, so far as we can discern, there is no reason to doubt that is so.”


Howley addressed the panel to stress his remorse for his behaviour and his feelings that he had let down WRU, his former colleagues in that organisation and above all his family.

The panel did question in their conclusion, why Howley chose to bet on rugby.

As we have described, we regard Mr Howley’s conduct as involving “a high degree of fault”. While we are prepared to accept that 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 sports exclusively which, of course, was perfectly permissible.”

The report revealed that letters three of rugby union luminaries helped his case.

“The letters from Sir Ian McGeechan, Mr Warren Gatland and Mr Johnathan Davies, the current international player, are very powerful.


“Finally, we also record the help and support which Mr Howley’s family has provided to him and the obvious anxiety and stress which these proceedings have brought upon him and we have taken those matters into account so far as we feel able. ”

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.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips and Wales head coach Warren Gatland at a press conference in the RIHGA Royal Hotel, Kitakyushu, Japan after assistant coach Rob Howley was sent home.

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