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29 December 1981

Glasgow WUDC 1981

The first Worlds was hosted in Scotland in January, 1981 by the Glasgow Union and organized by Clark McGinn. 43 teams competed from 7 nations. Registration was £10 but teams from outside the British Isles paid no registration as they were at a financial disadvantage for travelling so far. In exchange for this fee there was a promise of "a bed for every competitor". There were four days of debating with a day off in the middle to visit Edinburgh, and then the finals. Steve Coughlan and Andrew Taylor took home the first place honors for the University of Toronto, defeating John Rankin and Marcel Mongeon of McGill. Andrew Taylor also took home the best speaker award. It was a strong year for Canada; three of the top four teams were Canadian. Not many English schools attended; they thought Glasgow was too far from home.

It was Scotland. It was winter. It was raining. The Canadians couldn’t believe how warm it was. The Americans couldn’t believe how cold it was. While reports from the championship are rare the history of APDA reports "the creation and infrastructure of that tournament took on soap-operatic dimensions". One indirect result of the championships was the foundation of APDA itself. As 4 US debaters (Princeton's David Martland & Richard Sommer and Amherst's David Bailin & J. J. Gertler) toured Scotland after the championships plans for APDA were drawn up in the back of a Ford Cortina.

Info from Kenny Harris (Finalist)
The Queen Margaret Union "B" team who reached the finals in in the very first championships consisted of Kenny Harris (me) and Kenny Dyer. We came joint third, and I won third placed speaker of the tournament. The launch of the tournament was pretty much the idea of the then Convenor of Debates at Glasgow University Union, Clark McGinn - but as host Union they did not take part.

This History of the World Debating Championships comes in 3 parts. From 1976 to 1990 it is taken almost word for word from the 1991 Toronto WUDC Tournament booklet. Who wrote it isn't known but it was provided by Randal Horobik. At the start of the section on Worlds in 1981 is an extract from an e-mail by Clark McGinn, Convenor of Debates, GU Union 1980 -81 and 1981 and Convenor of the First World Debating Competition, 1981. The history since 1991 has been compiled initially by Colm Flynn and edited by many contributors to Wikipedia. Unfortunately Wikipedia deleted the history due to copyright concerns so we are back here. Hopefully anyone who contributed to the Wiki article before it was deleted will be happy to see their work preserved here.

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