By Chris Foy for the Daily Mail
Published: 15:59 BST, 17 September 2019 | Updated: 16:04 BST, 17 September 2019
This is a monumental shock. Rob Howley has faced more than his fair share of criticism during all the years working for Wales, but never any questions about his integrity.
The 48-year-old former scrum-half has been part of the national set-up from the start of Warren Gatland’s tenure in 2008. He had a decorated playing career, earning 61 Test caps – 59 for Wales and two for the Lions.
He has gone on to have a stellar coaching career, despite the backdrop of regular scorn for his exploits as the attack guru who has also served as interim head coach.
Wales coach Rob Howley has been sent home from World Cup for alleged betting offences
Gatland (left) looks on alongside Howley during a Six Nations match against England in 2019
Gatland has valued him so highly that he has trusted Howley to hold the fort when he has been away in Lions preparation mode – and then he has enlisted his services for the last two tours; to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand four years later.
Prior to that, Sir Ian McGeechan had included him in his management team for the British & Irish crusade to South Africa in 2009.
So, for all the damning public commentary which has often forced him to dodge slings and arrows, Howley has been a respected figure within the international game. That point was reinforced by the recent speculation that he is favourite to replace Conor O’Shea as head