Princeton took up the torch when the University of Auckland failed to organize a tournament. There had been a great deal of talk of subsidized airfare to New Zealand, but this all suddenly went quiet. Frank McKirgan and John Nicolson of Glasgow Dialectic met and defeated the defending champions Auckland (Stuart Bugg and David Kidd). It had been reported in the past that the beaten finalist was a University of Toronto team of Jeff Nankivell and Francis Daniels. However Frank McKirgan contacted me directly to correct this. The best speaker at the tournament was Michael McFarlane from the Glasgow University Union (a different society from the winning Dialectic team). As with the beaten finalists John Geisnell, from an unknown university, was previously recorded as the best speaker but again Frank McKirgan has corrected this and confirmed it with John Nicolson.
For better or worse, the World Debates council was formed at this tournament. The general idea was to get a bit more organized, and possibly prevent world tournaments from evaporating completely. Prior to that, issues such as the next tournament location and haggling over who should get to go had been decided by a general meeting of all teams present. Given the track record on bidding and hosting the tournament, a World Council probably couldn’t hurt.
Here is a little colour piece written by Frank McKirgan
The competition took place in March and the rest day coincided with St Patrick's Day. A number of the competitors went up to New York City the night before and spent a very long night and day experiencing the 'St Patrick's Day spirit' in the city. The final was between defending champions from Auckland (Stuart Bugg and David Kidd) and Glasgow University Dialectic Society (John Nicolson and Frank McKirgan). The final was held in Nassau Hall (the first home of the US Congress) and the motion was 'This House would apologise for the American Revolution' with Glasgow proposing.
All the previous rounds had been judged by a three judge panel. For the final, there were three judges and the organisers decided to award 2 votes to the result of the audience vote. After the debate the organisers announced that the judges voted 2-1 in favour of Glasgow and the 500-odd audience vote was exactly tied. The 2 audience votes were split evenly giving Glasgow the trophy 3-2. Just one person in the audience could have changed the result.
Michael McFarlane from Glasgow University Union won the prize for best speaker.
After the event the both the Glasgow teams plus the team from Edinburgh went on a tour which visited Harvard, Yale, McGill, Toronto, Ottowa and Hamilton.
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.