Welsh plans in disarray after Howley is sent home over alleged betting
Rob Howley's coaching career is in tatters and Wales' World Cup bid has been thrown into disarray after Warren Gatland's assistant was sent home from Japan for alleged betting infringements.
Former Wales captain and scrum-half Howley left Wales's training camp on Monday and will be investigated over a possible breach of World Rugby's regulation six which covers anti corruption and betting.
The shock news comes just five days before Wales face Georgia in Toyota in their World Cup opener. Gatland's preparations for that game on Monday are now in pieces.
It represents a disaster of epic proportions for Wales who had been among the favourites to seal global glory in the Far East.
A disgraced Howley landed back in the UK yesterday afternoon.
A Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) statement read: "The WRU can confirm that Rob Howley has returned to Wales to assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union.
"The decision was taken to act immediately in light of recent information passed to the WRU.
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"No further details can be provided at this stage as this would prejudice the investigation. If required an independent panel will be appointed to hear the case.
"Rob has co-operated fully with our initial discussions and we would ask that the media appreciate this is a difficult and personal matter for Rob and that his privacy is respected before an outcome is reached.
"Warren Gatland has consulted with senior players and Stephen Jones will be arriving in Japan imminently to link up with the squad as attack coach."
It is understood Howley has contravened regulation six by placing bets on rugby union.
Players at all levels as well as agents, match officials, disciplinary personnel, coaching and backroom staff, owners and directors involved at the highest level are banned from betting on any rugby match.