first_imgOxford University has won the World Universities Debating Championships, held in Cork, Ireland. The team of two students beat 304 other competing teams to win the prestigious Sam Maguire trophy.James Dray and Will Jones formed the ‘Oxford A’ team and beat others from Harvard, Melbourne and other internationally prestigious universities.The motion they debated was “this house would ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy” and Oxford were in opposition. 15 minutes preparation time was given and each of the eight contenders had a seven minute speech. Oxford’s speeches were based on the argument that abortion can be self-defence and can prevent long term problems for mothers. Jones said, “the subject as was extremely sensitive and very close to the bone.” He noted, “there were no women in the final so it was eight men debating about abortion. I was personally very happy not arguing to ban abortion.”The convener of the debate, Art Ward, said on the subject, “we obviously need a contentious issue that will divide a room for the basis of good debates. Everyone was happy to debate abortion and I think they did the subject justice.”The final debate was held on 3rd January between four teams. Another Oxford team, the ‘Cs’ took part in the final, along with the Harvard As and Monash Bs. After a two hour deliberation, the judges voted in favour of Oxford 5-4. Jones said the final “was very very hard. The Australian team were a bit nasty but we got lucky. The two hour judging proves that this was by no means an easy victory.”James Dray is studying for a doctorate in politics at Mansfield College. He said, “we are both very happy and also quite relieved. It was really close and the others did really well. The event itself was extremely stressful and scary.”Will Jones studies politics at Balliol. He said of the competition, “I had forgotten just how exhausting and stressful debating is. But it was also very enjoyable in a masochistic way.Ward said of the two debaters, “I saw them lose in the finals two years ago and now they have come back and proven their position as one of the better teams in the world. The guys are known on the circuit and are good characters. Other universities don’t want to face them in debates to a scary degree.”The competition was held at University College Cork. It consisted of nine preliminary rounds over three days with 1,000 contestants from 40 countries. At times, 78 debates were running simultaneously. Each win accumulated points and the 32 highest ranked teams entered a knockout final. Jones said, “The event was phenomenally well organised and we are very grateful to University College.” Dray added, “the only issue we had was that Ireland was so cold.”Both students are also the current European champions and saw this as their last competition. Dray noted, “I’m definitely going to the next one to watch it. I’ve also been invited to be deputy-chief adjudicator in the 2011 competition, but no, I’m not doing the debating again. This has been my last proper debate.” Jones agreed and added, “Instead, I’m going to continue coaching the Scottish national team and do more coaching in schools. I have had a wonderful experience doing this and have made some good friends.”Oxford debating is run by a sub-committee of the Union. Its Chair of the Debating Selection Committee, Neil Dewar, coordinated the team. He said: “they have done very, very well. With the US, Canada, Australasia, East Europe and others involved in the competition there was a bigger pool of talent and lot more top end teams.” He added: “we are trying to get a trophy cabinet.” The two debaters were presented with a crystal trophy by the chief adjudicator.Oxford has won the annual competition twice in a row now, winning last year’s final in Thailand. It is the second university ever to do this. Next year’s competition will take place at Koç University, Turkey.last_img read more