Wales assistant rugby coach sent home over betting case

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TOKYO — Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has been sent home from the Rugby World Cup in Japan over a potential breach of betting rules.

The former Wales captain, who has been part of Warren Gatland’s coaching team since 2008, has left the squad’s base in Japan.

The Welsh Rugby Union says “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.”

Wales’ opening World Cup game is against Georgia on Monday.

The WRU says Howley has “co-operated fully with our initial discussions” but adds that “if required, an independent panel will be appointed to hear the case.”

Howley had been due to leave his Wales coaching role after the World Cup, along with Gatland and fellow assistants Shaun Edwards and Robin McBryde.

Howley enjoyed a glittering playing career, winning 59 caps for Wales and captaining his country on 22 occasions, while also helping Wasps to be crowned European champions in 2004.

He played for the British and Irish Lions in 1997 and 2001, and was part of the Lions coaching staff on their last three tours.

World Rugby postponing July test matches

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World Rugby has postponed July test matches involving southern and northern hemisphere nations because of ongoing restrictions on international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport’s international governing body issued a statement Friday saying the mid-year test window will be rescheduled when cross-border travel and quarantine regulations are relaxed.

New Zealand had been scheduled to play Wales and Scotland, Australia was set to play Ireland and Fiji and South Africa had planned to host Scotland and Georgia. World Rugby said the postponement is due “to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.”

Bill Beaumont re-elected as World Rugby chairman

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Former England captain Bill Beaumont has been re-elected as World Rugby chairman on Saturday after beating Agustín Pichot, the current vice-chairman.

The sport’s governing body says the 68-year-old Beaumont achieved a first-round majority of 28 votes to 23.

Beaumont says: “I am honored to accept the mandate of the World Rugby Council to serve as the international federation’s chairman once again.”

He begins his four-year term after a council meeting on May 12.

French rugby federation president Bernard Laporte becomes Beaumont’s new vice-chairman.