Rugby Canada Updates - September 2020

September 24 2020


Rob Howley
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Rugby Canada/Toronto Arrows Hire Rob Howley - First Coaching Post After Being Suspended for Betting on Rugby Matches



Rugby Canada in partnership with Toronto Arrows have hired Rob Howley as assistant coach to fellow Welshman Kingsley Jones. It's a decision sure to raise a few eyebrows. Rob Howley was the assistant coach of Wales before he was caught up in a gambling scandal and removed from the position prior to the 2019 World Cup and given an 18 month suspension from rugby, it was dated back to September 16th 2019 when he was removed from the Wales coaching staff. The sentence was reduced by 9 months so in effect it was a 9 month suspension allowing him to work in rugby again as of June 16th 2020. The charge against him was breaching the anti-corruption and betting regulations set in place by World Rugby. He was betting on games, including games with Wales, while he was in a position of influence as assistant coach. The following from Wales Online summarizes the situation.
Rob Howley has been suspended from involvement in rugby for 18 months, nine months of it suspended, after admitting to breaching World Rugby anti-corruption and betting regulations.

Following a detailed investigation by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Howley’s case was heard in Cardiff by an independent panel, chaired by Sir Wyn Williams.

Howley was found to have placed 363 bets on rugby union, featuring 1,163 matches between 13 November 2015 and 7 September 2019.

Some of those bets involved Wales matches and there were two instances where Howley bet on a specific Wales player to either be a try-scorer in a match or score the first try.

The latter bet was placed on Wales' 2019 Six Nations clash with Ireland earlier this year. Players that Howley bet on were questioned but denied any knowledge of the bets.

It was unlikely he was going to secure coaching employment in Wales or in Europe with the stigma attached so the perfect place to post him was in Canada. Canada has a long history as a colonial destination for those who have "messed up" in the "home" nations. Canadian society has generally moved on from those norms but Canadian rugby still has some strong colonial bonds, just ask Agustin Pichot.

The joint Rugby Canada and Toronto Arrows media release (appended below) didn't even mention the suspension, on the contrary their release quotes one individual, "his manner and attitude meshes perfectly with the values and culture of the Arrows", perhaps a poor choice of words given his recent suspension for breaching anti-corruption regulations.

Everyone deserves a second chance however and what Rob Howley does bring to the table is a lot of coaching experience and technical expertise. It's likely they got him at a discount rate, not European pro rate but high level Tier 2 amateur rate. Rugby Canada put in money, as did the Toronto Arrows, even some private donors got in on the act. World Rugby put in money but whether that was directly or through Rugby Canada is unknown.

It's a bit disheartening from a Canadian rugby values standpoint but a deal is a deal from a business standpoint. If Rugby Canada can use him to help all levels of their national programs from U20 to Academy and Senior then that's a plus.

The bottom line is that Jamie Cudmore and Phil Mack should be promoted from Academy to Senior coaches after the 2023 World Cup cycle. Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley should be helped to integrate back into the European professional system by then. If Rugby Canada made that pathway clear to everyone it would go a long way in accepting these parachute appointments. Both Cudmore and Mack could learn from Howley and put Canada back on a "promote from within" pathway post 2023. There are a lot of upcoming Canadian coaches who could then eye taking the vacant spots left at the Academy by Cudmore and Mack when they were promoted.

For now it's just another "celebrity" offshore coach in the system. Whether he resides in Toronto or Victoria has yet to be revealed. He apparently won't be here for the November test window but will likely start with the Arrows in March.

Banned Rob Howley back in Test rugby after serving suspension from RugbyPass.com

Rob Howley will begin rebuilding his coaching career with Canada after being appointed senior assistant to Canucks boss Kingsley Jones. The three-year deal that encompasses the 2023 World Cup will also see Howley work as a consultant for the Toronto Arrows for the 2021 Major League Rugby season.

It is the former British and Irish Lions scrum-half’s first post since serving an 18-month ban – with nine months suspended – for betting on rugby matches. “I’m absolutely delighted to be joining Rugby Canada and begin working alongside Kingsley Jones and the other Canadian coaches,” Howley said.

“I’m excited to get to work and help prepare Canada for World Cup qualification. I am also looking forward to my first season in MLR with the Toronto Arrows.

“There 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’s very similar to my past experience coaching in Wales.”

Howley was suspended last December after admitting to breaching World Rugby anti-corruption and betting regulations, having placed 363 bets on the sport.

It is the only stain on an otherwise outstanding playing and coaching career that produced 59 Wales caps and appearances on two Lions tours before he embarked on a series of successful tracksuit roles with Wales and the Lions.

from Rugby Canada / Toronto Arrows

Rugby Canada, in partnership with the Toronto Arrows, are delighted to announce today the hiring of Rob Howley in the position of senior assistant coach for Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team. As part of the signing, Howley will also work as a consultant with the Toronto Arrows for the 2021 Major League Rugby (MLR) season. This is an important three-year signing for the senior men’s program running through the end of Rugby World Cup 2023.

Howley’s rugby resume is as impressive as it is extensive, both as a player and coach.

As a player, Howley played professionally for Cardiff before joining Wasps, where he won two Premiership titles and the 2004 Heineken Cup. Born and raised in Bridgend, he made 59 appearances for his native Wales and was selected for two British and Irish Lions tours in 1997 and 2001.

As a coach, Howley has excelled at the highest levels of international rugby and worked alongside some of the top coaches in the world over the last two decades, including Sir Graham Henry, Steve Hansen, Sir Ian McGeechan and Warren Gatland. Howley began his coaching career as an assistant coach with Cardiff Blues, and then moved to the Wales National Team. He was a member of the Wales coaching staff for the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups, and on two occasions in 2012-13 and 2016-17 Howley became interim head coach of Wales, stepping in for Warren Gatland. He enjoyed tremendous success as a head coach, including winning the Six Nations Championship in 2013 with a last-game, championship-deciding victory over England. He also enjoyed wins against France, South Africa, and Ireland during his tenure. With the British and Irish Lions, Howley was attack coach during the 2009 tour of South Africa, the 2013 tour to Australia, and the 2017 tour to New Zealand.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Rugby Canada and begin working alongside Kingsley Jones and the other Canadian coaches,” said Howley. “I’m excited to get to work and help prepare Canada for Rugby World Cup qualification. I am also looking forward to my first season in MLR with the Toronto Arrows. There 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.”

Head Coach Kingsley Jones said, “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. He’s someone that I’ve known and respected for a long time and the opportunity to have Rob join our program is a huge step forward for Canadian rugby. His experience and expertise will benefit not only our young players but our entire coaching staff.”

Rugby Canada’s Director of Rugby Operations, Dustin Hopkins added, “I’d like to thank Bill Webb and the Toronto Arrows for their partnership, in conjunction with philanthropic donations from dedicated Canadian rugby supporters in aiding Rugby Canada’s ambition in bringing Rob to Canada.”

Rugby Canada National Development Academy Head Coach, Jamie Cudmore added, “As a coach, the opportunity to work with and learn from one of the best tactical coaches in the world is a tremendous opportunity for me and our entire coaching staff. This signing comes at a great time as we continue to develop our academy programs.”

In addition to his coaching role with Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team, Howley will assist the Toronto Arrows in a consulting capacity during the 2021 MLR season.

“We are fortunate and excited to have Rob on board to work with our club’s young Canadian coaching staff,” said Mark Winokur, Toronto Arrows Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. “Not only does Rob bring his vast experience, but his manner and attitude meshes perfectly with the values and culture of the Arrows, and our guys are really fired up about welcoming him into the Arrows environment.”

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