For those who don’t know what sevens is, how do you explain what’s going on?
Sevens, in my eyes, is all the fun bits of rugby, put together for 14 minutes of mayhem. If you’re trying to get someone to learn about rugby, I’d definitely take them along to a sevens game. The greatest memory I’ll always take away from sevens is the atmosphere, in Dubai and Hong Kong – those were my two favourite sevens events. It’s an amazing feeling in Dubai, on the pitch and off, because of the carnival atmosphere.
Who are the toughest sides in the sevens?
I really rate the Samoans. The Fijians are class, and when they click they’re phenomenal. We were coached to be physical with the Fijians – if you matched brawn with brawn against them you usually came out on top. The Samoans have got the skill, the flair, the nastiness of the Argentineans – they’re a very hard team to play against. But England have always managed to pip them at the post in the semis.
You said in an interview once that ‘sevens is easier on the soul’. What did you mean?
I was talking about making a mistake. When you get your international call for 15s, there’s a hell of a lot of pressure – 80,000 people in the stadium, all these millions of people at home watching, pundits ready to rip you to pieces if you do something wrong. On the sevens circuit, if you miss a tackle, you’re kind of expected to, because of the pace.
Do you ever wish you’d stuck with football [Strettle was a promising soccer player as a youngster] instead?
There are definitely perks in football, but I like the team spirit that you get with rugby. There’s a great social side of rugby, and you meet people that you know you’ll be mates with for the rest of your life.