Rob Howley Wales return
Is Warren Gatland getting the old band back together?

That was the question on many Welsh fans’ lips when it was announced that Gatland’s former second-in-command, Rob Howley, was being brought back from Canada and into the WRU fold as “assistant coach (technical)”, with “special responsibility for the men’s and boys’ pathway”.

The 53-year-old’s return marks a significant development, both for Howley himself and the Welsh national team. The former scrum-half – one of the game’s greatest of his generation – brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record to his role, making his return a positive and strategic move.

His career has been marked by success, and he was crucial to Wales’ golden era both under Gatland and, as in 2013 when the New Zealander was away on Lions duty, as interim head coach. The Howley comeback signals a continuity of the successful coaching structures that have defined Welsh rugby in recent years.

He understands the Welsh rugby ethos deeply, whether through his upbringing in the rugby heartland of Bridgend or as captain for club and country. As a player, his ability to control the tempo of the game, his supreme fitness levels and decision-making skills under pressure set him apart as one of Wales' finest, and his two tours with the Lions in ’97 and ’01 were testament to this.

Transitioning to coaching, his achievements have been equally notable. Beyond the Six Nations successes, he has been an integral part of the coaching staff during three British & Irish Lions tours, including the historic series win in Australia in 2013 and the drawn series that followed in New Zealand.

While Howley has faced challenges during his coaching career – not least the one that resulted in his departure from the Wales set-up on the eve of the 2019 World Cup – his return can be viewed as an opportunity for redemption and a chance to contribute to the ongoing evolution of Welsh rugby. With his experience, tactical astuteness, and an undeniable passion for the game, this could represent the beginnings of a positive chapter in the story of Welsh rugby.

“I have a second opportunity to do a job I’ve dedicated my working life to and I’m grateful to everyone in Welsh rugby for their acceptance and their faith in me,” said Howley on the day of his unveiling. “It’s faith I intend to repay to the best of my ability.”