Wales coach Rob Howley sent home from Rugby World Cup over betting allegations

17 September 2019, 16:09 | Updated: 17 September 2019, 18:13

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has been sent home from the Rugby World Cup for a "potential breach" of betting rules, the Welsh Rugby Union has said.

Howley left the team's base in Kitakyushu, Japan, to "assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union", the WRU said in a statement.

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

Players, coaches and officials at all levels in the game are prohibited from betting on any rugby fixtures.

The 48-year-old former Wales captain has "co-operated fully with our initial discussions" and an independent panel will be appointed to hear the case if required, the WRU said.

Howley has been part of Warren Gatland's coaching team since 2008 and the news comes just six days before his country's opening match against Georgia.

He will be replaced by former fly-half Stephen Jones, who was set to take over Howley's job in 2020 and is expected in Japan later this week.

Howley had been named in news reports as a possible successor to Conor O'Shea as Italy head coach after the World Cup but the new allegations could ruin his career.

As a player, Howley was among the finest of his generation and he moved seamlessly into the coaching role, becoming one of Gatland's most trusted lieutenants.