Former Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has apologised and opened up on his battle with “demons” after being banned for making 363 bets on rugby over a four-year spell.
On Monday he was handed an 18-month ban for breaching World Rugby’s anti-corruption and betting regulations.
The sanction, nine months of which is suspended for two years, followed a three-month investigation by an independent disciplinary panel.
It was discovered that Howley’s bets had spanned dates between November 2015 and September 2019, some of which were on Wales games during his time with the team.
Howley has issued a full apology, insisting his sister Karen’s death in 2011 had left him in a difficult place.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all those close to me and everyone this has affected, especially the rugby community, close colleagues and above all my family,” Howley said in a widely reported statement on Tuesday.
“I am an extremely private man, and unfortunately it was this that kept me silent as I battled my demons following my sister’s tragic death.
“The last few months have been immensely tough, and continued help will allow me to find the right path back to rugby which has always been my true passion.
“I am immensely grateful for the faith and support I’ve received from everybody close to me.”
Statement: Rob Howley suspensionhttps://t.co/f6o3tkn0hR
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) December 16, 2019
Backs coach Howley was withdrawn from Wales duty when the WRU learned of a potential breach in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The ban has consequently been backdated to September 16, meaning he will be eligible to return to the sport on June 16, 2020.
Howley wished to make it clear that his good character had been recognised during an investigation which he fully co-operated with.
The 49-year-old added: “I feel it is important for me to reiterate a number of the key facts that were highlighted and proven during the investigation:
“‘Mr Howley acknowledged his breach of the regulation at the first available opportunity, that he has demonstrated deep felt and genuine remorse, that he has an exemplary character and an exemplary disciplinary record (both as a player and coach).
“‘There was no suggestion of dishonesty or misuse of confidential information involved.
“‘The fact that Mr Howley had sought help from a psychologist who had diagnosed that the trigger for Mr Howley’s recreational betting had been a family tragedy and that Mr Howley had refrained from betting since his suspension’.”
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