The former Wales and Lions attack coach Rob Howley was banned from rugby for 18 months and suspended for nine after he was found breaching the betting rules. He has placed 363 bets on 1,163 matches across four years, and a few of those bets even involved Wales.
5 Years Ban on The Table
Rob Howley was a member of Warren Gatland’s backroom since the beginning of 2008 and was planned to leave the role after the 2019 World Cup. Unfortunately, his active role stopped when he left the camp in Japan only six days before Wales’s opening win against Pool D adversaries in Georgia. That was the moment when he was replaced by Stephen Jones.
While there are many aficionados of this type of entertainment, the coach wouldn’t have been banned if he only placed bets in online casino games. If you are among the admirers as well, here you may find a casino where you can place a bet.
There was an independent disciplinary panel that learned the news about the numerous bets that went on for 45 months, starting in November 2015. The former coach held accounts with at least three bookmakers and even used his WRU email address and mobile number.
The WRU’s operation director Julie Paterson was named the anti-corruption officer and flew to Japan along with Martyn Phillips, the union’s chief executive, to meet Howley. Without being prompted, he acknowledged the breach of the regulation and was sent home.
On 5th October, he was charged by the WRU with “betting on the outcome of an event by an associated person and receiving part or all of the profits of such betting”.
The panel observed that he was honest about those activities, answered any questions and did not try to avoid responsibility for his actions. Paterson notes recorded that Howley was noticeably remorseful and declared that he was not trying to be evasive. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have used the work phone and email address.
The former coach was facing a ban of five years, but as the betting was for personal gain and no inside information was disclosed, attenuating circumstances became available to the panel.
However, the panel received certain “powerful letters” from the leading figures in the game and decided that Howley’s actions deserved more than the minimum suspension on six months. At last, the panel gave him 18 months with nine months suspended.
Howley confirmed that he has not placed any bets since September 2019 and was convinced that the help of a psychologist would prevent him from betting in the future.
After being banned from rugby for placing multiple bets on matches involving Wales and two of the players, Rob Howley has publicly issued an apology to everyone that has been affected, especially the rugby community, close colleagues, and most of all, his family.
“I am an exceedingly private person and unfortunately, it was this that kept me silent as I fought my demons following my sister’s death”. He added: “I feel it’s important for me to restate a number of the key facts that were emphasized and proven during the investigation.”
Howley admitted the breach of regulations at the first opportunity available, demonstrating genuine remorse. There was no suggestion of deceit or misuse of the confidential information involved.
“If I had seen her that Wednesday, would she still be alive?”
BBC related the entire story of the ex-Wales coach, mentioning that the betting problem started with a family tragedy.
Howley showed guilt after not visiting his sister before her death and had struggled over his decision in finding her a place to stay away from their mother. He blames himself for her death, feeling that maybe he has created an environment that led his sister to the grave, with her alcoholism getting from bad to worse.
“There was plenty of guilt, could haves, should haves.” Howley feels that betting provided an escape, a reason to forget about all the bad things and the experience of his sister. It was not about the money, nor was it an addictive behaviour.
“I lost £4,000 over the four years, so I wasn’t exactly good at it. I was even using my work phone and email address, which was pretty stupid.”
The problem occurred while he was still in Japan. Rob described the entire experience of admitting his offences to Warren Gatland, manager Alan Phillips, as well as senior players, as “humiliating and embarrassing”. He revealed similar feelings in disappointing his two daughters and wife and confessed that the journey home was “horrendous”.
After the entire incident, Howley did not leave the house for three months. However, with the reliable support of Warren Gatland, he started to visit a clinical psychologist that helped him understand his reasons to gamble.
Howley stated that he needed answers for his behaviour, for his own and family’s sake, and it all came back to the way he has dealt with Karen’s death. With the well-received help, he reached a point of closure, making peace with himself and his demons.
“I’ve learned that it’s imperative to talk about feelings, instead of suppressing them and expecting they’ll go away. There is no shame or weakness in showing emotional vulnerability.”
While the betting issue was found to have its roots in a family tragedy, it is difficult to understand why Howley chose to bet on rugby (which was prohibited), rather than any other sport or casino game that was perfectly allowed.
The good news is that he received the answers needed for his behaviour in the gambling situation and managed to find closure with help from his psychologist and everyone close to him that, as claimed, was very supportive.