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Robert Howley rules himself out of Wales job while denying bullying accusation

Warren Gatland’s assistant wants to coach club rugby in England or France after 2019 World Cup, but expresses surprise at Lee Byrne’s bullying claims

Rob Howley will not be joining the queue to succeed Warren Gatland as Wales’s head coach after the 2019 World Cup. His decision has nothing to do with the criticism he received from the Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien after the Lions’ drawn series with New Zealand in the summer, or allegations of bullying made by a former Wales player this month in his autobiography. Rather it reflects Howley’s desire for change after what will be 12 years in Test rugby.

Gatland’s loyal lieutenant since the New Zealander arrived in Wales at the end of 2007 appeared to be in line to take over a year ago when he stepped in as head coach for the second time when the Kiwi took a Lions sabbatical. “I was having conversations then about finishing with Wales after the World Cup and my wife, Ceri, thought I should publicly say then that I would be going at the same time as Warren,” says Howley. “I thought it would not send the right signal to the coaches I was going to be working with for the next 12 months, but in hindsight my wife was right.”

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