Former Wales coach Howley takes up Canada role

(Reuters) - Rob Howley has been appointed Canada assistant coach, Rugby Canada announced on Wednesday, with the 49-year-old making his return to the sport after being banned for breaching betting rules.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby World Cup warm-up match - Wales v Ireland - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - August 31, 2019 Wales Head CoachÊWarrenÊGatland and backs coach Rob Howley during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

The former Wales assistant coach 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, placed 363 bets, including some on Wales, on rugby union between November 2015 and September 2019, featuring 1,163 matches in total.

He has been eligible to return since June 16 and his new role will see him link up with former Wales international Kingsley Jones in Canada’s coaching team.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Rugby Canada and begin working alongside Kingsley Jones and the other Canadian coaches,” said Howley in a statement.

“I’m excited to get to work and help prepare Canada for Rugby World Cup qualification.”

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

“This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the synergy of a professional club loaded with domestic players in an emerging league to help support the national team – it is very similar to my past experience coaching in Wales,” he added.

Following his ban, Howley had apologised saying he had “battled demons” after his sister’s death.

Jones hailed Howley’s appointment, saying his experience would greatly benefit the team.

“Rob is one of the most highly regarded coaches in international rugby and I’m ecstatic that he will be joining us at Rugby Canada,” Jones said.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge