Finalists : Victoria University Wellington
Best Speaker : Francis Greenslade (Adelaide)
At the Worlds in Sydney in 1988, had 90 teams. Oxford brought the first place trophy home to England having defeated Victoria Wellington in the final. Francis Greenslade (Adelaide) was best speaker.
Competition and judging conventions differed from one Worlds to the next, and part of the idea is to do things according to the customs of the host school. Some competitors, used to making frivolous definitions, were disconcerted with a certain Australian rule aimed at banning such frivolity. If a resolution lent itself to economics, for example, you had to debate economics. This led to at least on unfortunately literal debate about whether it really was better to live on your knees than die on your feet.
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.