Former England winger David Strettle has announced that this season will be his last as a professional rugby player. Strettle who is 35 years old began his career with Rotherham Titans in 2003 and has gone on to have a hugely successful career since then. Having made his England debut in 2007 against Ireland in the Six Nations he went on to make 14 caps between his debut and his final appearance in 2013. This number is probably below where it should have been given his consistent performances over the years and his proven ability as a finisher.
After impressing for Rotherham in his time there, scoring 27 tries in 43 appearances, he got a big move to Harlequins in 2006. At Harlequins Strettle further enhanced his promising credentials, it was during this period that he won his first England cap and he was also named Professional Rugby Players’ Association Young Player of the Season for the 2006/07 season. Unfortunately Strettle would be injured for the 2007 Rugby World Cup where he might have been one of the young stars of the competition.
It was announced that Strettle would make the controversial move from Harlequins to Saracens for the start of the 2010/11 season. Over the next five seasons at Allianz Park he would enjoy the best years of his career as he collected two Premiership titles.
A move to French giants followed his stint with Saracens. He would go on to win a French Top 14 title in 2017 and miss out on European glory in the final of the Champions Cup against his former side. During his time in France Strettle scored an impressive 20 tries in 52 appearances before rejoining Saracens this season.
Despite never cementing his place in the England setup as his early potential had promised he always performed well when called upon earning himself the nickname ‘the milkman’ due to his ability to deliver.
On his decision to retire Strettle had this to say, “I spoke to my wife and we decided now is the time to say goodbye to rugby. There are some more adventures for me elsewhere. I’m lucky enough to be able to look back, be very proud and privileged to have done some of the things I’ve done.”
“There was a time when I was at Clermont I thought I’d retire so everything from that point has been an unbelievable bonus for me and to come back to Saracens has been incredible.”
“When I first joined the club there was a saying called ‘ELE’ – Everyone Loves Everyone – it’s very true. There are no prima-donnas, no one is treated better than the others. Saracens will always have a special place in my heart and I have some amazing memories to take forward. I’m looking forward to the last couple of months before creating further memories outside of rugby.”
The illustrious career of Strettle was built around electric pace, quick feet and finishing ability all of which culminated in 122 tries to date.
His Director of Rugby at Saracens, Mark McCall paid tribute to his player with the following, “To watch Strets play, is to forget you are a coach and to be a fan of rugby. Competitive in the air, graceful on the run, intelligent in defence, he has produced some of the most memorable moments of skill ever seen in a Saracens jersey; often in big games, often under the greatest pressure. That is the mark of a truly great player.”
“Off the field, he is a dedicated team mate and family man. Saracens have been fortunate to have David for two spells at the club and he leaves having made Saracens a better place. We wish him and his family every success in the future.”
He could yet finish his career with his best season yet with Sarries still in the hunt for the top prize in Europe and domestically and such a conclusion may well be appropriate for a model professional.
Written by Stefan Hamilton