The 35-year-old first picked up a ball aged five years has gone on to make over 325 appearances at club level as well as earning 14 caps on the international stage.
Known for his quick feet, electric pace and try-scoring ability, Strettle has crossed the whitewash on 122 occasions to date, the latest couple coming in Sarries’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final win over Glasgow Warriors in March.
Starting out at Rotherham Titians in 2002, Strets made a name for himself on the Sevens circuit with England before penning a deal with Harlequins. Soon after, Test recognition in the 15s game came and he made a try-scoring debut against Ireland at Croke Park.
After four years at The Stoop, he found home at Saracens in 2010 and hit the ground running with a try in his first outing for the Men in Black and struck again the following weekend against Leeds Carnegie.
It proved to be a memorable first season in north London for Strettle as Sarries won their first ever Premiership title. The hotstepper ended his four years at the club with a second domestic medal and departed for Clermont Auvergne having enjoyed several trips away with the squad, creating long-lasting memories in the process.
In France, Strettle was adored by the Montferrand faithful and helped them to their first Top 14 triumph in seven years before returning to Allianz Park this season where he has once again made a huge impact on and off the field.
There is no doubt Strets will be a success in whatever he chooses to do post-retirement and everyone at Saracens would like to wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
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Death, taxes….and rugby players’ retirement statements on social media…all certainties of life in this day an age. So, this is it for me. Every journey has its end and every curtain has its call, and I’m now having to admit that I can’t play rugby forever. There’s always that nagging doubt in the back of your mind as a rugby player, that nudges you to say, ‘go on…one more year!’ Sometimes you listen to it, but sometimes you take a step back and realise that now is time. Yet, I won’t gloss over the fact I am leaving a sport and a way of life, that has given me so much opportunity, and in turn, has provided me a wealth of memories, friendships, and life lessons since I first laced up my boots as a snotty-nosed kid in Warrington. From finding so much enjoyment in playing the game at my local club Lymm RFC, to learning the ropes at Rotherham Titans – then being lucky enough to play at three of the elite clubs our game can boast in Harlequins, ASM Clermont Auvergne and Saracens. To play for my country is something that I will look back on with immense pride, on both the Sevens circuit and then for the England national side. I’d like to thank Saracens, who provided me and my family with the opportunity to return to Allianz Park for one more season. I feel incredibly lucky to come back to this Club, and a massive thank you must go to Nigel Wray and Mark McCall, all the coaching and backroom staff, past and present for their support and encouragement, and my teammates, for sharing so many experiences and memories with along the way. My final thanks go to my family. To my Mum and Dad, for doing what every good parent does by believing in me and providing me with the support and dedication to make the world my oyster. Latterly in my life, to my wife, Phoebe, and my two little munchkins, Isla and Leo, for giving me the perfect reason to play rugby, to make them proud. So…from me, thank you. Thanks for all your support, thanks for all the memories, and here’s to making one or two more before I become another one of those grumpy old timers who charge modest sums to speak at your local rugby club to trot out the tired old clichés! Ta, Strets!
On retiring, Strettle said:
“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.”
Director of Rugby Mark McCall added: “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 teammate 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.”
Past & Current players were quick to comment and congratulate Strettle on his career:Embed from Getty Images
Cipriani has a new club
Danny Cipriani will join Bath Rugby in May on an extended one-year contract, to include the completion of the 2020/21 season.
The 16-cap England international will join the Blue, Black and White at the beginning of May, following a rigorous recruitment process to strengthen the club’s options at fly-half, with Rhys Priestland departing to Cardiff Blues at the end of this season.
The 33-year-old playmaker is credited for his unique vision as well as his natural creativity and impressive attacking skillset, contributing to a semi-final place for Gloucester in 2018/19 and the Rugby Players’ Association Players’ Player of the Year 2019.
Highly attack minded, Cipriani’s ability to predict the passage of play, create space and control the game is a key component of the fly-half’s unique attributes.
His expertise in game understanding, combined with an exciting commitment to seizing opportunities, has often resulted in match-winning moments across his 18-year career in the sport.
On joining the Blue, Black and White, Cipriani said: “I’ve been really focused over the past three months on improving my running efficiency and kicking, while looking for a club that matches my ambition. After speaking with Stuart and Neal, it was clear that Bath offered that opportunity.
“We talked about what I could bring to the club and what Bath were looking for in a fly-half; someone who could be part of an attacking mindset, who could help unlock that aspect of the game and inject additional pace and vision – complementing the quality in the team.
“The club has a clear ambition and drive that aligns with my own; they want to achieve something special as a team, they want to win. That was a very appealing vision for me.”
Cipriani will join Tian Schoeman as an experienced fly-half who will support Bath’s developing players – in particular Orlando Bailey – to evolve their game.
Cipriani and Schoeman give Hooper experienced options at fly-half, providing a significant opportunity for Bailey to further accelerate his development with their stewardship, following his recent appearances in the first team.
Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper said: “Danny’s abilities are evident; his game understanding and management are exceptional as is his skillset in the backline. He has a real eye for detail around the attacking shape, I’m confident that he will bring an exciting dimension to our game.
“We have made no secret of our recruitment in this key position. Our process, as with all recruitment and contracting decisions, has been thorough and diligent and we are now incredibly excited to be able to announce the recruitment of Danny.
“I have no doubt that Danny will become a valued member of our playing group and become an ambassador to the younger players coming through the pathway just as Rhys has so well over the seasons.”
Tigers welcome back Burns
Leicester Tigers will welcome Freddie Burns back to the club ahead of the 2021/22 season.
The 30-year-old, currently playing for Toyota Jido Shokki in Japan, returns to Leicester for a second stint at the club where he made 75 appearances between 2014-17.
He joined Leicester in 2014 and scored 603 points for Tigers in three seasons, before moving to Bath Rugby ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and then to Japan for the 2020/21 season.
Speaking about the addition of Burns from next season, Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Freddie back to the club from next season.
“He is an experienced Premiership player who has played international rugby and will be a valuable addition to our squad.
“I have been impressed with the way Freddie has spoken about wanting to be a part of what we are building at Tigers and his determination to be a leader in our squad.”
Burns added: “I can’t wait to be back in Leicester and part of the club again.
“I can see the changes in the team and clear identity of the squad with Steve and want to be a part of that.
“I am coming back to compete and want to be playing in the Premiership once again.
“Tigers fans are so passionate and I always had such a good connection with them, they are definitely a reason why I want to come back to the club.”
Gallagher Premiership scrap relegation
- At the end of season 2020/21 there will be no relegation from the Premiership into the Championship, and no relegation from the Championship into National One.
- Provided the winner of the 2020/21 Greene King IPA Championship is eligible for promotion under the current Minimum Standards Criteria, the 2021/22 season to consist of 13 teams in the Gallagher Premiership and 11 in the Greene King IPA Championship.
- Holistic new minimum standards on and off the pitch for promotion to the Gallagher Premiership will be developed between now and the end of May 2021 with involvement and approval from Council which will be designed to promote sustainability in the professional game.
The RFU Council today cast a strong majority vote in favour of no relegation from the Gallagher Premiership or the Greene King IPA Championship for the 2020/21 season.
Council members considered the impact Covid-19 has had on all areas of the game, including the earlier decision to suspend promotion and relegation in the community game and the Gallagher Premiership cancelling a significant number of matches in the 2020/21 season. These cancellations have resulted in a material impact on league positions which could mean relegation based on cancellation not on field merit.
Over the next four months the RFU, Premiership Rugby and Championship representatives will work on recommendations for changes to the season structures for 2021/22 and beyond for both the Premiership and Championship.
It is hoped that proposals will include a different approach to promotion and relegation from the Gallagher Premiership. The aim will be to retain the ambition of clubs in the Greene King IPA Championship and below and to continue to allow a route to promotion to the Gallagher Premiership. New minimum standard criteria, investment in facilities and club funding will be discussed. The domestic calendar will be reviewed, which will also allow additional preparation time for the England senior men’s team ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023. Player welfare will be central to the proposals and the RPA will be consulted on the development of season structures. It is likely that any season structures may also include a further moratorium on promotion and relegation for three or four seasons, after which the structure will be subject to further review. Those proposals would be subject to a vote of the RFU Council before the end of the 2020/21 season.
Speaking about the RFU Council vote, RFU President, HH Jeff Blackett said; “The RFU Council has taken time to understand and discuss all the factors regarding no relegation for this season so that we act in the best interests of all levels of the game. We want to ensure a healthy elite game to support successful winning England teams that generate income to stimulate and preserve the game across all levels. The Council will continue to be closely engaged with the proposals from the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship to ensure we maintain the integrity of the future league structures for England Rugby.”