Rugby News

Rugby-Howley ready to start from scratch for Canada after betting ban

Sept 26 (Reuters) - Former Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, who has returned in a similar role with Rugby Canada after being banned for betting, said he was keen to rebuild his career after a challenging period out of the sport.

The 49-year-old was banned for 18 months, with nine months suspended and the sanction backdated to Sept. 16 - the day he was sent home from Wales’ Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan.

An investigation found that Howley, who earned 59 caps for Wales between 1996-2002, had placed 363 bets, including some on Wales, on rugby union between November 2015 and September 2019, featuring 1,163 matches in total.

“I’m just thankful I’ve been given this opportunity. I feel that I want to prove myself all over again,” Howley, who was named Canada assistant coach, told the BBC on Friday.

“We’re all vulnerable to making mistakes, and I made many throughout my coaching career, particularly as highlighted in the World Cup. The past 12 months have been very challenging.”

The independent panel said Howley lost around 4,000 pounds ($5,000) and that his betting was triggered by a family tragedy involving the death of his sister.

He consulted a psychologist in a bid to stop gambling.

“It was traumatic but thankfully I have had the support of family, friends and wider rugby community,” Howley added.

“I’ve learned it’s important to talk about those feelings instead of suppressing them and through that experience as a family we’re much stronger, I feel I’m a better person.

“Thankfully, through the dark tunnel which I’ve experienced, I now feel I’m ready to go,” he said. “Looking forward to the challenge.”

Howley will also work as a consultant with the Toronto Arrows for the 2021 Major League Rugby season, which kicks off in March .

$1 = 0.7846 pounds Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard