Former Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has opened up about the emotional turmoil behind the betting scandal that cost him his job during last year’s World Cup in Japan.
Howley was sent home from Japan seven days before Wales’ World Cup opener for breaching World Rugby’s regulations related to betting.
He was immediately put under investigation by the Welsh Rugby Union for breaking World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union after information was passed to the WRU.
In a gut-wrenching interview with the DailyMail eight months after the scandal, Howley openly talks about the events that drove him to self-destruction, including his battling with grief and guilt over his sister’s death.
‘Where the hell do I start? My sister, Karen, died in 2011. She’d gone through some tough times. Depression, alcoholism, divorce, going missing and dealings with the police. There was a lot guilt, should haves, could haves. My feeling was that I had driven my sister to her own grave.’
Howley reveals that he used to gambling because it gave him an escape from reality and his feelings of guilt.
‘It was all about escaping from my dark thoughts. It was never about the money. I placed 363 bets over four years and I lost £4,000 over those four years, so I wasn’t exactly good at it, was I? I was even using my work email address and phone. Pretty stupid, isn’t it? If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.’
Howley revealed he had just returned to his hotel room following a selection meeting when he got the message that changed everything.
‘I just put a couple of notes on the whiteboard and was doing some work on my laptop when a text came through. It was our team manager, Alan Phillips, who he went to meet at the bar along with Warren Gatland. According to Howley, Phillips immediately confronted him and he came clean.
‘Gats asked me how significant the amounts were and I told him there were some bets on Wales. By that point, Martyn Phillips and Julie Paterson, from the Welsh Rugby Union, were already flying over from Heathrow. Warren said “I think you’re going to be sent home, Rob”.’
‘On the Monday, I fronted up and explained to various members of the group what was happening. I spoke to captain Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies first, then spoke to Dan Biggar later on in the evening. Jonathan just looked dumbstruck. I felt like I’d let everyone down. It was humiliating and embarrassing.
‘So, yeah, that’s what it was. It was wrong and I hold my hands up.’
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