World Schools' Debating Championships

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The World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) is a high profile annual English-language debating tournament for high school-level teams representing different countries.

Six countries participated at the first tournament, staged in Australia in 1988. Since then, the WSDC has grown to embrace teams from over 50 countries, with over 40 taking part each year.


WSDC debates use a special format known as 'World Schools Style Debating'. This is a combination of the British Parliamentary and Australian formats, designed to meet the needs of the tournament. Each debate comprises eight speeches delivered by two three-member teams (the Proposition and the Opposition). Each speaker delivers an eight-minute speech; then both teams deliver a "reply speech" lasting four minutes, with the last word being reserved for the Proposition. Between the end of the first and the beginning of the last minute of an eight-minute speech, the opposing party may offer "points of information". The speaker may refuse these, but should take at least one or two points during his or her speech.

The WSDC normally takes place over the course of ten days. Each national team competes in eight preliminary debates: four prepared debates (the motion having been announced a few weeks before the start of the tournament) and four impromptu debates (for which teams have one hour to prepare). Once the eight preliminary rounds have been completed, the 16 best teams compete in knock-out debates (known as the Octofinals) culminating in a Grand Final. For each debate, three judges (or more in later rounds) mark each debater on his or her style, content and strategy.


The WSDC is governed by a World Schools Debating Council, made up of representatives of each of the countries who participate in the championships. Decisions are made by democratic votes of the Council members (though only representatives of countries who have entered teams in at least two of the past three WSDCs may vote on amendments to the championship rules). The Council decides which countries will host the tournament, monitors and revises the WSDC rules, and elects an Executive Committee to handle matters such as adjudication, language issues, education and finance.

Aims of the World Schools Debating Championships[edit]

  • To achieve excellence in debating
  • To encourage debating throughout the world
  • To promote international understanding
  • To promote free speech

In order to further these aims, all participating countries agree that:

  • The team of any participating country may be required to debate any issue.
  • The team of any participating country may be required to debate against the team of any other participating country.
  • The team of any participating country is entitled to take part in the Championships on the same basis as any other participating country's team.

Past Championships[edit]

Year Venue Champions Runners-up
1988 Australia Canada Australia
1990 Winnipeg, Canada Scotland Australia
1991 Edinburgh, Scotland New Zealand Australia
1992 London, England New Zealand Scotland
1993 Medicine Hat, Canada England Scotland
1994 New Zealand USA Pakistan
1995 Cardiff, Wales New Zealand Scotland
1996 Canberra, Australia England Pakistan
1997 Bermuda Australia England
1998 Jerusalem, Israel Australia Scotland
1999 London, England Scotland England
2000 Pittsburgh, USA Australia England
2001 Johannesburg, South Africa Australia Scotland
2002 Singapore Ireland Australia
2003 Lima, Peru Australia Singapore
2004 Stuttgart, Germany Australia South Africa
2005 Calgary, Canada Australia England
2006 Cardiff, Wales Australia Ireland
2007 Seoul, South Korea Scotland Singapore
2008 Washington D.C., U.S.A. England New Zealand
2009 Athens, Greece New Zealand England
2010 Doha, Qatar Canada England
2011 Dundee, Scotland Singapore Australia
2012 Cape Town, South Africa Scotland
2013 Antalya, Turkey Australia Swaziland
2014 Thailand England South Africa

Future Championships[edit]

  • 2015 - to be held in Singapore
  • 2016 - to be held in Stuttgart, Germany

Current Irish Team[edit]

Daniel Gilligan (St. Conleths College, Dublin)
Sarah Duffy (Loreto On the Green, Dublin)
Rory O'Sullivan (Rochestown College)
Ronan Daly (Rochestown College)
Niamh Ryan (Loreto On the green)

Ireland at the WSDC[edit]

  • 2014 Semi finalists breaking 2nd - (Collins, Browne, Costigan, Gilligan, Ryan) (Lost to eventual winners on a 4-3 split)
  • 2011 Semi finalists breaking 11th - (Hunt, O'Dwyer, O'Connor, Somers, Peelo) (lost to eventual winners Singapore on a 5-2 split)
  • 2010 Octo finalists breaking 15th - (O'Dwyer, Courtney, Hunt, Noonan, Breen) (lost to eventual winners Canada on a split)
  • 2009 Octo Finalists - breaking 10th (O'Dwyer, Burns, Byrne, Derrig, Breen) (lost to Canada on an outrageous 2-1 decision)
  • 2008 Quarter finalists - breaking 9th (Ni Mhuiri, Burns, Byrne, McCormick, Hartigan)(lost to New Zealand 4-1)
  • 2007 Octo finalists - breaking 1st (McSwiney, McAndrew, Murray, Burns, Moloney) (lost to S.Africa 2-1 following definitional challenge)
  • 2006 Finalists - breaking 2nd (Quinn, Haughton, Hastings, McAndrew, Murray)
  • 2005 Quarter Finalists - breaking 6th (Frenett, Mulligan, Early, Smith)
  • 2004 17th Place (Curry, Frenett, Mulligan, Swaine)
  • 2003 Quarter Finalists - breaking 8th (Kenny, Hurley, Walsh, Boughton, McGuire)
  • 2002 World Champions- breaking 6th (McGrath, Glynn, Murphy, Kelly, Coutts)
  • 2001 Octo Finalists - breaking 9th (McGrath, Thullier, Whelan, Deeny, Bourke)
  • 2000 Octo Finalists - breaking 11th (de Barra, Titley, O Daly, McIntyre, Moloney)
  • 1999 Octo Finalists - breaking 12th (Dillon Lyons, Scannell, Larragy, Lynham, Hickey)
  • 1998 11th Place (Grant, McElroy, Dwyer, Mulhall)
  • 1995

The following is a list of speakers who have represented Ireland at the World Schools' Debating Championships including (where known) their schools, the competition they attended and their position on the speaker ranking:

Speakers who have represented Ireland[edit]

  • Jacqueline O'Hara
  • Natalie McDonnell
  • Laura Joyce
  • Therese Higgins
  • Tom Austin
  • Caoilfhionn Gallagher
  • Aisling Dwyer (Scoil Mhuire, Cork)
  • Emmet Coldrick (Castleknock College)
  • Daragh Grant (Presentation Brothers' College, Cork)
  • Jim McElroy (Castleknock College)
  • Jacqueline Mulhall (St. Dominic's College)
  • Robert Philpott (Presentation Brothers' College, Cork)
  • Brian Hickey
  • Sharon Dillon-Lyons (Dominican College, Galway) {England 1999}
  • Simon Larragy (Belvedere College) {England 1999 31}
  • John Lynham {England 1999 31}
  • Claire Scannell (Colaiste Choilm, Cork)
  • Alison McIntyre
  • Manus de Barra (Sandford Park School)
  • Alan Moloney (Castleknock College)
  • Irene O Daly
  • Brona Titley (Loreto on the Green)
  • Peter Bourke(Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Cork)
  • Dave Whelan (Gonzaga College) {South Africa 2001 39}
  • Noel McGrath (Catholic University School) {South Africa 2001 8, Singapore 2002 26}
  • Sarah Deeny (Loreto on the Green) {South Africa 2001 48}
  • Anthony Thullier {South Africa 2001 24}
  • Barry Glynn (Gonzaga, Dublin) {Singapore 2002 36}
  • Cian Murphy (Christian Brothers' College, Cork) {Singapore 2002 36}
  • Stephen Coutts (Christian Brothers' College, Cork) {Singapore 2002}
  • Ross Kelly {Singapore 2002 43}
  • Hugh Hurley (Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Cork) {Peru 2003 50}
  • Ross McGuire (La Lycee Francaise - Dublin; St Kilian's Deutsche Schule Dublin)
  • Rachael Walsh(Loreto on the Green) {Peru 2003 26}
  • Dave Kenny (Catholic University School) {Peru 2003 14}
  • David Boughton (Catholic University School) {Peru 2003 41}
  • Josephine Curry (St Louis, Monaghan) {Germany 2004}
  • Ross Frenett(Christian Brothers' College, Cork) {Germany 2004, Canada 2005 6}
  • Sarah Swaine(Loreto on the Green) {Germany 2004}
  • Andrea Mulligan (Loreto on the Green) {Germany 2004, Canada 2005 34}
  • Cormac Early(Newtown School, Waterford) {Canada 2005 35}
  • Shane Smith (Wesley College) {Canada 2005}
  • Sian Murray (Wesley College/Newpark Comprehensive) {Wales 2006, Sth Korea 2007 13} {Washington 2008 8}
  • Danielle Quinn (Loreto College) {Wales 2006 19}
  • Mark Haughton (Wesley College) {Wales 2006 18}
  • Ian Hastings (St Conleth’s College) {Wales 200620}
  • Conor McAndrew (Gonzaga College) {Wales 2006}
  • Eoghan McSwiney (Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Cork) {Sth Korea 2007 5}
  • Hugh Burns (Pobalscoil Neasain) {Sth Korea 2007 10}{Washington 2008 10}{Athens 2009 12}
  • David Byrne (C.U.S.) Washington 2008 and Athens 2009
  • Brian McCormick (Gonzage College) Washington
  • Eoghan Hartigan (C.U.S.) Washington
  • Killian Breen (Castleknock College) {Athens 2009 50}{Doha 2010 26}
  • Michael O'Dwyer (St Conleths) Athens 2009 and Qatar 2010
  • Ríán Derrig (St Peters Castlebar) Athens 2009
  • Louise Courtney (Alexandra College) Doha 2010
  • Carin Hunt (Wesley College) Doha 2010 and {Dundee 2011 41}
  • Adam Noonan (Castleknock College) Doha 2010
  • Paul O'Dwyer (St Conleths) {Dundee 2011 25}
  • Rónán O'Connor (Christian Brothers Cork) Dundee 2011
  • Briony Somers (Newtown School) Dundee 2011
  • Aodhán Peelo (Castleknock Community College) Dundee 2011


WSDC has had many alumni who have gone on to major university debating success including Niall Kennedy, Gavin Illsley, Alex Just, Jonathan Bailey, Ali Dewji, Dom Thurbon, Patrick Emerson, Rory Gillis, Nick Sloboda, Jess Prince, Jack Anderson, Tara Mounce, Fiona Dewar, David Penny , Sam Block, Lewis Iwu, Alex Worsnip, Rose Grogan, James Probert, Bobby Webster, Cormac Early, Anser Aftab, Hugh Burns, Ben Woolgar, Maria English and Chris Croke.