Alastair Da Costa
Alastair was appointed Chair of Leeds Tykes in July 2020 – he has been a non-executive director of the parent company, Yorkshire Tykes Limited, since 2014. Alastair is an experienced corporate lawyer and he has served as a director of a number of professional services, education and not-for profit organisations. He is Chair and Pro-Chancellor of The University of Leeds and he had a long career at international law firm DLA Piper, where he was a partner and global board member. Alastair studied at Leeds University and at Leeds Beckett University and at various times he played rugby with Ripon RUFC, Leeds University and Headingley.
Born and raised in Castleford, the son of a colliery manager. Gary developed a passion for Rugby League at the age of 8 as a fan of his beloved “Classy Cas” team. He trained as a teacher, but started his working life as a salesman, firstly in the grocery trade and latterly in double-glazing.
Gary played nearly 300 first team games as a professional RL player for Wakefield Trinity, York, Leeds and Huddersfield throughout the 1970s and early 1980s and he was instrumental in setting up the game’s first trade union for players. His coaching career included the position of Assistant Coach to the GB team for the Test Series against Australia in 1994 and a Lions Tour to New Zealand in 1996 and also Coach to the GB Under 24 team. His passion from his early 20s, was to coach and manage, and after being turned down for the coaching job at York at the age of 27, he and his wife, Kath decided to form their own club – the Sheffield Eagles.
Using £13,000 from his wife’s earnings as a double-glazing saleswoman, the Eagles were formed and accepted into the RFL in 1984. Gary was the Owner, General Manager, Player and Team Manager. The Eagles finished 17th in the Second Division with a turnover of just £86K in their first season, but after 5-years, the team was promoted to the elite division, finishing a best ever 5th in 1995. Significantly, the business had grown with a turnover of £1.4m.
The success of the Eagles, both on and off the field was one of sports fairy tales and in 1996 Gary and his wife sold their controlling interest and Gary joined Paul Caddick to take over the ailing Leeds CF&A Co Ltd, owners and operators of Headingley Stadium and Leeds Rugby League Club. The Company had suffered significance losses in it’s previous 20-years, culminating in a debt of £5m and faced the prospect of losing Test and County Cricket with Yorkshire’s decision to relocate to Durkar.
The Leeds Rugby Union Club was acquired in 1997 and Leeds Rugby became the World’s first dual code club. The team won promotion to the Premiership in 2001 and in 2005 won their first major trophy, the Powergen Cup at Twickenham. The business has reversed its’ trend of losses with annual profits making Leeds Rugby one of the best performing sports businesses in the UK. Leeds Rhinos were voted Super League Club of the Year in 2007.
Under Gary’s leadership, the Rhinos turned from perennial underachievers to World Champions in less than ten years and won their first Championship for 32 years in 2004. He has promoted a policy of nurturing local talent that has seen the Rhinos become the envy of world rugby league with a squad of young, talented British players, the majority of which are play for their home town club. 18 tropghies followed in a golden 12 years including multple World Champion titles.
Off the field, attendances have averaged over 17,000 making the Rhinos the best supported and most televised rugby team in the country. Gary has also been the driving force behind Leeds Rugby’s groundbreaking partnership with Leeds Beckett University which has seen the renaming of Headingley Carnegie Stadium and the construction of the Carnegie Stand, the first major construction work on the rugby stadium in over 70 years.
This was later enhanced by the rebuilding of both the South and North stands during 2018 and 2019 in a £45m project that turned the newly renamed Emerald Headingley Stadium into one of the worlds finest provincial stadiums in rugby.
In 1989, he was awarded the Rugby League Writers Association Order of Merit for his outstanding contribution to the sport and in 2004 had the honour of being President of the Rugby Football League, following in the footsteps of wife Kath, who had held the role previously in 1995