Saracens and England winger David Strettle has announced he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the current season following an illustrious 17-year career.
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
Tom Wood to captain Barbarians for showdown with Saints
Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTSSaturday 26 November 2022cinch Stadium at Franklin’s GardensKick-off: 3pm15 Jonah Holmes14 Zach Kibirige13 Luther Burrell12 Owen Williams11 Marland Yarde10 Danny Cipriani9 Gareth Simpson1 Murray McCallum2 Hika Elliot3 Brok Harris4 Graham Kitchener5 Elliott Stooke6 Ben Morris7 Olly Robinson8 Tom Wood (c)Replacements:16 Tevita Ikanivere17 Ben Harris18 Elliot Millar-Mills19 Lloyd Ashley20 Will Boyde21 Francois Hougaard22 Mali Hingano23 Perry Humphreys
Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.
The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.
Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.
Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.
Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.
Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.
And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.
A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.
BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Saturday 26 November 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 Jonah Holmes
14 Zach Kibirige
13 Luther Burrell
12 Owen Williams
11 Marland Yarde
10 Danny Cipriani
9 Gareth Simpson
1 Murray McCallum
2 Hika Elliot
3 Brok Harris
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Elliott Stooke
6 Ben Morris
7 Olly Robinson
8 Tom Wood (c)
16 Tevita Ikanivere
17 Ben Harris
18 Elliot Millar-Mills
19 Lloyd Ashley
20 Will Boyde
21 Francois Hougaard
22 Mali Hingano
23 Perry Humphreys
TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears
Sam James makes his 200th Sharks appearance, Cobus Wiese and Akker van der Merwe return from injury and Rouban Birch and Kieran Wilkinson are rewarded for their cup heroics with places on the replacements bench for the Saturday lunchtime Premiership clash with Bristol Bears (KO 1pm – live on BT Sport).
Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez also return to the Sharks line-up after featuring for South Africa A, while Jono Ross captains the side for the round 11 showdown with Pat Lam’s men.
Springbok hooker Van der Merwe returns to the number two shirt after six weeks out with an ankle injury picked up against London Irish in October, and he takes his place in the front row between the experienced pair of Ross Harrison and Nick Schonert.
Wiese also returns from ankle lay-off to partner Josh Beaumont in the second row, while the Du Preez twins line-up alongside skipper Ross in the back row.
Gus Warr lines up again at scrum-half alongside fly-half Rob du Preez, and in the centres, Sam Hill starts with the ever-present Sam James, who plays his 200th game for his boyhood club.
Tom Roebuck and Byron McGuigan start on the wings, with full-back Joe Carpenter making up a pacy back three.
Academy products Tommy Taylor and fit-again Simon McIntyre provide front-row cover on the bench, along with Joe Jones, who will be playing his 50th Sharks game if he takes the field.
Sam Dugdale and Friday night’s Premiership Rugby Cup player of the match Birch cover the rest of the forwards.
Joe Simpson, Wilkinson and Arron Reed are the backs replacements.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Byron McGuigan, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. JL du Preez, 7. Jono Ross ©, 8. Daniel du Preez
16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Rouban Birch, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Arron Reed.
Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby
Falcons forward heads to France
Thursday 24 November 2022
Lock-forward George Merrick has left Newcastle Falcons to join a French club with immediate effect.
The 30-year-old has made 13 appearances since joining from Worcester Warriors in the summer of 2021, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of the club.
Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder said: “George has been offered an exciting playing opportunity over in France and we wish him all the best for his move.
“He has been a positive presence around our squad during his time here, and on behalf of the entire coaching team I’d like to thank him for his contribution.”
Merrick said: “I’ve loved my time in Newcastle with a great bunch of boys, and I’m looking forward now to this new challenge.”
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