Wales Coach Rob Howley Booted from Rugby World Cup Over Alleged Betting Violation

Posted on: September 18, 2019, 05:12h. 

Last updated on: September 18, 2019, 12:27h.

The Japan Rugby World Cup is just days away from kickoff, and the Wales team is reeling from the news that its long-time assistant coach, Rob Howley, has been sent packing for an alleged betting infringement.

Rob Howley
The news that Wales Coach Rob Howley had become embroiled in a betting scandal saw his team’s odds of lifting the Rugby World Cup drift slightly with some bookmakers. (Image: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)

The Welsh Rugby Union announced Tuesday that Howley had flown home from Japan to “assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby Regulation 6, specifically, betting on rugby union.”

“The decision was taken to act immediately in light of recent information passed to the WRU,” the union added. “No further details can be provided at this stage, as this would prejudice the investigation.”

The WRU said it was first made aware of Howley’s suspected regulatory breach last Wednesday, after being contacted by one of the gambling industry’s integrity teams.

Wales ‘Shocked’ By News

World Rugby’s regulation 6.3.1 reads: “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.”

The 48-year-old former scrum-half represented his country 59 times as a player, 22 times as team captain. Howley has been an integral part of coach Warren Gatland’s backroom team for more than a decade.

Gatland told a press conference Tuesday the team was “shocked” by the news, which came just six days before its opening game against Georgia.

If found guilty, Howley could face the maximum sanction of a life ban from the sport, and would join a rogues’ gallery of athletes who have fallen afoul of betting violations, from baseball’s Pete Rose to soccer’s Joey Barton.

Who Will Win the Rugby World Cup?

Rugby may not be well-known in America – at least, not since the 1920s, when the US Team won back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics – but it’s a big deal in other parts of the world, especially in Wales, where it’s more than just the national game, but a national cultural symbol.

Whether Howley’s departure will affect the team on the pitch remains to be seen. Its odds of winning the tournament outright have drifted with some bookmakers following the news, although with most, Wales remains a 10/1 joint-third favorite with Ireland.

New Zealand’s All Blacks are far and away the favorites to win the World Cup, at 5/4, with South Africa and England joint second, both at 4/1.

If you want a slightly longer proposition, you can have Australia at 14/1 with most bookies. This is certainly not a vintage “Wallabies” team, but you can never rule out the Australians. The two-time World Cup winners looked dangerous at times in the recent Bledisloe Cup, which included a victory (followed by defeat seven days later) against the All Blacks.

And if you like a real outsider, you can have the USA at 1,500/1 – although not if you are an assistant rugby coach.