Wales backs coach Rob Howley.
Wales backs coach Rob Howley.

Rugby World Cup rocked by betting scandal

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has been sent home six days before the team's opening match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan over a possible breach of betting rules, the Welsh Rugby Union said.

The 48-year-old missed Wales' welcoming ceremony in Kitakyushu on Monday and will be replaced in Japan by former fly-half Stephen Jones, the WRU added.

"The WRU can confirm that 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," the governing body said in a statement.

"The decision was taken to act immediately in light of recent information passed to the WRU.

 

Wales backs coach Rob Howley.
Wales backs coach Rob Howley.

"No further details can be provided at this stage as this would prejudice the investigation.

"If required an independent panel will be appointed to hear the case.

"Rob has co-operated fully with our initial discussions and we would ask that the media appreciate this is a difficult and personal matter for Rob and that his privacy is respected before an outcome is reached.

"Warren Gatland has consulted with senior players and Stephen Jones will be arriving in Japan imminently to link up with the squad as attack coach."

Wales start their World Cup Pool D campaign against Georgia on Monday.

Favourites to top Pool D, Wales' second clash is against Australia.

Howley had been due to leave his Wales coaching role after the World Cup, along with Gatland and fellow assistants Shaun Edwards and Robin McBryde.

Howley enjoyed a glittering playing career, winning 59 caps for Wales and captaining his country on 22 occasions, while also helping Wasps to be crowned European champions in 2004.

He played for the British and Irish Lions in 1997 and 2001, and was part of the Lions coaching staff on their last three tours.

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