Rugby: Former Welsh assistant coach Rob Howley suspended over beating breach

Former Wales and British & Irish Lions assistant coach Rob Howley has been suspended from all involvement in rugby for 18 months for breaching betting regulations.

Howley returned home from Japan shortly before the World Cup began, when the Welsh Rugby Union became aware of possible wrongdoing.

Nine months of the ban have been suspended, provided Howley does not re-offend. 

The ban is backdated to the time of his initial withdrawal from the global showpiece on September 16, enabling him to take up a post in rugby from June 16.

A written decision released by the WRU revealed that, in October, Howley was charged with making 364 bets on rugby union over a four-year period, using accounts with three different bookmakers held in his own name.

Howley "received the proceeds (or part of the proceeds) of the successful bets" and the former Lions scrumhalf accepted the charge "without qualification".

WRU policy and integrity manager Jeremy Rogers was contacted by an employee of Betway, who claimed Howley had placed bets on Wales games.

At a September meeting to explain the process for the investigation, Howley appeared "visibly upset" and said "I'm putting my hands up. If I was being evasive, I wouldn't have used my works mobile phone and email account".

He apparently placed a bet on a Wales player to be the first tryscorer in the 25-7 Six Nations victory over Ireland in March, but Howley stated it was part of a treble bet, and was part and parcel of his normal recreational betting activity.

But he conceded that he knew betting on matches involving Wales was a breach of World Rugby anti-corruption and betting regulations.