The Welsh Rugby Union ("WRU") has suspended former Wales back's coach Rob Howley for 18 months for breaches of World Rugby's Anti Corruption and Betting Regulations ("Regulation 6").

Regulation 6.3.1 prohibits certain categories of persons connected with the sport ("Connected Persons") from placing, or attempting to place bets on matches, tournaments, leagues or competitions with which they are involved, connected or engaged with ("Connected Events").

An independent WRU panel found that Howley had used his WRU phone and email account to place 363 bets on rugby union matches (across 1,163 matches) between 14 November 2015 and 7 September 2019. Howley admitted that 24 of those bets were on Connected Events.

The panel was satisfied that Howley had not made any financial gains from his bets, and had in fact made a loss of £4,000 over the time period in question.

Howley received an 18 month suspension from rugby (with 9 months suspended), backdated so as to begin on 16 September 2019, which was the date on which Howley withdrew from Wales' World Cup campaign.

This is a relatively unique case of such a high-profile figure within international sport making extensive bets on Connected Events. Indeed, whilst the panel acknowledged that the trigger for Howley's betting stemmed from a personal family tragedy, it expressed difficulty in understanding why Howley chose to bet on rugby rather than other sports on which he was permitted to bet.

Nonetheless, it serves as a timely reminder that in order to preserve a sport's integrity, those connected with that sport are typically prevented from placing bets on events in which they might be deemed to have access to "inside information".