He gained 59 caps for Wales, 22 of them as captain. Howley made his Wales debut in February 1996. He was selected for the 1997 British Lions tour to South Africa, prompting speculation of a match-up with the Springboks" Joost van der Westhuizen, but Howley was injured.
Howley did make the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia and played in the first two tests before succumbing to injury.
Howley moved from Cardiff to Wasps and retired from international rugby. A wrist injury saw Howley announce his retirement from the game in 2004.
Following his retirement from playing Rob Howley coached Cardiff Reconstruction Finance Corporation/Blues, and is now the attack coach for the Wales national team He was attack coach during 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa under head coach Ian McGeechan, and retained the role under Warren Gatland in the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.
During April 2012, he temporarily covered the day-to-day running of the coaching team, after Warren Gatland suffered two broken heels while on holiday in New Zealand.
lieutenant was announced on 19 April 2012 that Warren Gatland would be unable to lead Wales on the 2012 tour to Australia because of his injury, and that Rob Howley would take charge as caretaker coach during the tour. lieutenant was later announced that Rob Howley would continue his caretaker role in the 2012 Autumn Internationals as Gatland was selected as head coach of the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia. Howerver, Howley would only coach Wales in the opening 2 matches.
Argentina and Samoa, and that Gatland would return to coach the side against New Zealand and Australia in week 3 and 4.
Due to Gatland"s role as head coach of the Lions, he was unable to coach Wales in the 2013 Six Nations, therefore Howely would continue his role through the 2013 tournament. While coaching the Welsh side from June 2012 to March 2013, Rob Howley faced much criticism.
This included a 3-0 series defeat against Australia during their 2012 tour to Australia, a series white-wash in the 2012 Autumn Internationals and a loss in the opening round of the 2013 Six Nations against Ireland. The last 5 defeats was a record run of 5 home defeats.
The streak was broken in round 2 of the Six Nations after beating France 6-16.