About – Rules

///About – Rules
About – Rules 2018-02-21T09:51:43+00:00
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1.1      A Premier team may have no more than FIVE speakers.

1.2      An Open Grade team may have no more than SEVEN speakers.

1.3      A team may borrow ONE speaker from another team in the competition ONCE during the preliminary rounds. This speaker must be from a team in the same grade or from a team in a lower ranked grade. The ranking of grades for this purpose is:

Advanced Premier
Advanced Open
Junior Premier
Senior Open
Junior Open

Borrowed speakers must also conform with the school year requirements for the relevant grades as set out in Rule 1.9.

1.4      An individual speaker may only speak outside his/her original team ONCE during the competition.

1.5      A speaker may NOT speak for two teams in the same grade in the same round.

1.6      Except where Rules 1.3-1.5 apply, once a speaker has debated for any team in the competition that speaker may NOT debate for any other team.

1.7      Where the first five (or seven) speakers to appear on the mark-sheets for a team differ from the speakers named on that team’s entry form the first speakers who have debated will be considered the official members of that team.

1.8      A speaker can only debate for a team in the break rounds if they have debated at least twice for the same team in the preliminary rounds.

1.9      The following age limit criteria apply:

Junior Open:             Year 10 and younger.
Senior Open:             Year 12 and younger.
Advanced Open:       All year 13 students and Year 12 students only with prior debating experience
Junior Premier:        Year 11 and younger.
Advanced Premier:  Year 13 and younger.

1.10  Where a team cannot field three eligible speakers (as described above) they will default the debate. Where they can field a team that includes ineligible speakers, a debate can go ahead and an adjudication will be delivered as normal, but for scoring purposes that team will be recorded as having defaulted the debate.


2.1       A school may enter:

Four Junior Open teams.
Four Senior Open teams.
Two Advanced Open teams.
One Junior Premier team.
One Advanced Premier team.

2.2      Where schools wish to enter more teams in any grade, they are encouraged to enquire as further entries may be allowed at the discretion of the Committee. In considering whether extra teams will be allowed the Committee shall have regard to:

2.3.1    The current size of the grade and whether more teams can be accommodated;

2.3.2    The performance of that school in the previous year;

2.3.3    The number of times that school’s teams defaulted in the previous year; and

2.3.4    The contribution that a school has made to the competition.

2.3      Every team must have a teacher from that school who is designated as the team’s coach.

2.4      A coach may be attached to no more than two teams in any one grade but may coach more than two teams if they are across multiple grades.

2.5      Every coach must have an associated email address and contact phone number (preferably mobile) so that the Committee may contact them in the event of defaults.


3.1      The order of speakers shall be:

First Affirmative
First Negative
Second Affirmative
Second Negative
Third Affirmative
Third Negative
Negative Reply
Affirmative Reply

3.2      Only the first or second speakers may deliver the reply speeches.

3.3      Speaking Times are as follows:

Junior Open:              5 minute speeches and 2.5 minute replies.
Senior Open:              6 minute speeches and 3 minute replies.
Advanced Open:        6 minute speeches and 3 minute replies.
Junior Premier:         6 minute speeches and 3 minute replies.
Advanced Premier:   8 minute speeches and 4 minute replies.

3.4      Warning bells will be given as follows:

3.4.1    In substantive speeches WITHOUT points of information there will be one warning bell one minute before the time limit and two bells when the time limit is reached.

3.4.2    In substantive speeches WITH points of information there will be one bell after one minute has elapsed, another warning bell one minute before the time limit and two bells when the time limit is reached.

3.4.3    In all reply speeches there will be one warning bell one minute before the time limit and two bells when the time limit is reached.


4.1      Interjections and points of order shall not be permitted in any grade of the competition.

4.2      Points of information are mandatory at the Premier Advanced, Premier Junior level and Advanced Open levels. They will be permitted in the preliminary rounds at Senior Open level by the mutual agreement of both teams. They are not permitted at the Junior Open level.

4.3      Points of information may not be offered in the first or last minute of a substantive speech. No points of information may be offered in the reply speeches.

4.4      The speaker offering the point of information must stand to offer the point of information and should wait to be accepted by the speaker who has the floor before continuing.

4.5      Points of information should be asked and then responded to once only. The speaker on the floor should not engage in a conversation with the speaker asking the point of information by asking follow-up questions.

4.6      Teams shall not be assisted by anyone else during a debate. However, time signals may be given from the floor by a coach or a team member or a student from the same school as the speaker.


5.1      Prepared topics or advised subjects in the preliminary rounds will be notified to teams at least seven days in advance of the debate.

5.2      Impromptu topics will be announced at the debate venue one hourin advance of the debate start time.

5.3      The school named on the left-hand side of each draw will take the Affirmative side of that topic, and the school named on the right-hand side will take the Negative side, unless the draw states otherwise (for example, if sides are to be determined by coin toss).

5.4      Teams must debate the topic and the side that they are allocated. 


6.1      Debates will take place on the date and at the time and venue notified by ASD. If a team cannot make the scheduled debate evening they can either move a debate to the Catch-Up Round (explained below) or the team will default the debate.

6.2      The affirmative team is responsible for arranging the chairperson of the debate (a senior pupil may exercise this role). The negating team shall supply the timekeeper, stop watch and bell.


7.1      If a team does not have three eligible speakers at the debate or is not ready to begin a debate 15 minutes after the announcement of the moot in an impromptu debate, or 15 minutes after the scheduled starting time for a prepared debate it forfeits the debate and the other team will claim a win by default.

7.2      For the purposes of Rule 7.1:

7.2.1    Whether 15 minutes has elapsed will be the decision of any ASD Committee member present or the Host School Co-ordinator; and

7.2.2    In an impromptu debate if teams provide prior notification that they will be late to the grade convener, the team will not forfeit the debate if they arrive before the scheduled starting time of the debate.

7.3      Where a team can field three speakers but they include ineligible speakers (see generally Rule 1) the debate will still go ahead and a normal adjudication will be given, however for scoring purposes that team will be recorded as having defaulted the debate.

7.4      If a default cannot be avoided, the debating co-ordinator at the defaulting team’s school must email ASD as soon as possible before the start of the debate evening. The procedure for this is:

7.4.1    The Committee must be notified about the default before 12pm on the day of the debate via email.

7.4.2    This should include an account of the situation, the number of members of the defaulting team, an explanation as to why the default was unavoidable and why the situation that arose could not be foreseen.

7.4.3 If the default does not become known until after 12pm, the defaulting team must notify the grade convenor by phone and email. The grade convenors contacts are available on the ASD website.

7.4.4 Any default after 2pm is deemed to be a default without notifying the Committee.

7.4.5 It is not sufficient to notify the opposing team. It is crucial that the Committee is notified.

7.5      A team that defaults without notifying the Committee as described above, for whatever reason, will be automatically withdrawn from the competition (see rule 7.7 for the reinstatement process).

7.6      A team that defaults twice, with or without notice, will be automatically withdrawn from the competition.

7.7      A team can be reinstated after being withdrawn under Rules 7.5 and 7.6 at the discretion of the Committee. In considering a reinstatement the Committee will consider, among other factors:

7.7.1    Whether the Committee feels confident that the team or coach will attend their remaining rounds or duties.

7.7.2    Whether there was a valid reason for that team failing to notify of the default in advance.

7.8      Fees paid in respect of withdrawn teams will be forfeited.

7.9      Beyond these requirements, whenever a team defaults the Committee reserves the right to take any steps it deems reasonable and necessary in the circumstances.  These steps may include:

7.9.1     Taking no action;

7.9.2     Asking the school to deal with the matter in-house;

7.9.3     Imposing a temporary or permanent suspension;

7.9.4     A loss of points;

7.9.5     Any other measure.


8.1      Schools wishing to delay a debate to the Catch-Up Round must contact the Committee as soon as possible before the start of the debate evening. The procedure for delaying a debate to the Catch-Up Round is as follows:

8.1.1    A team must pass a request to move to the catch up round to the Committee by email. In doing so, a team must accept the risk that:

It may take up to 72 hours for the Committee to receive and forward on a team’s request to the opposition.

It may take further time for the opposition to receive and reply to the request.

It may take further time for the Committee to receive the opposition’s reply and forward it back to the team.

8.1.2    Up to the point where a team receives confirmation of the move to the Catch-Up Round the team should expect to either be present at the debate or risk a default.

8.1.3 For the purposes of 8.1.2, “team” includes the team requesting the move to the Catch-Up Round, and their opposition.

8.2      Where the Committee is not informed of a delay to the Catch-Up Round in advance it reserves the right to default the team who initiated the move, regardless of whether the opposition accepted the request. This is because, where the Committee is not notified, adjudicators will turn up to the debate (at their own cost and sometimes at a cost to the Committee) and the host school co-ordinator may have to open extra rooms/blocks in anticipation of the teams arriving.

8.3      No team can have more than one debate in the catch-up round.

8.4 The Catch-Up Rounds for Junior, Senior and Advanced Open occurs before the fifth round of debates. The Catch-Up Round for Premier Advanced and Premier Junior is held on the same night following Round 7.


9.1      Teams should arrive one hour and a quarter before the debate is due to begin. They are told the subject of the debate and allocated to rooms. They have one hour to prepare for the debate.

9.2      Teams arriving after the scheduled topic announcement time accept that any delays in informing them of the topic and allocating them a preparation room once they arrive are at their own risk and will impact on their preparation time. For the avoidance of doubt, this rule should be read subject to Rules 7.2 and 7.2.2.

9.3      Only the three students debating in that round can prepare the debate.

9.4      Nobody, other than the team members preparing for the debate may be in the preparation room.

9.5      Team members may not talk to anybody else at any time during the preparation of the debate. This includes any time from the announcement of the topic, including the time it takes to get from the preparation room to the actual debate room.

9.6      If anyone needs to talk to one of the students preparing the debate, they should either ask an ASD Committee member or Host School Convenor to do it for them.

9.7      Each team is allowed to bring a small amount of reference material into the preparation rooms. The most useful material in this situation is newspaper or magazine articles on likely debate topics. Cell phones, laptops, internet access and any other form of communication (electronic or otherwise) are not permitted in the preparation room.

9.8      If a team believes the rules on team preparation have been broken by the other team, the adjudicator who is judging the debate or a Committee member if present must be contacted as soon as possible. She or he will decide what to do which may include allowing the debate to go ahead.

9.9      Where an adjudicator or Committee member is not immediately available, someone from another school should have witnessed the breach to help prove it after the fact.

9.10  If the debate goes ahead, a team is still allowed to lodge a written protest to the Committee who will consider the seriousness of the breach.

9.11 The Committee may decide that the result of a debate will be invalidated due to a breach of the rules, even if this breach was innocent.


10.1  Debates in the Junior and Senior Open Grades shall be judged by the teachers/coaches attached to teams in that grade. This is a requirementand not an option. The competition relies on rostered duties being fulfilled by the respective teachers/coaches.

10.2  School students may not judge debates in this competition and teams should refuse to debate if a school student is presented as an adjudicator.

10.3  Where teams continue with the debate when a student is presented as an adjudicator:

10.3.1   Both teams lose the ability to complain about the quality of the adjudication.

10.3.2   The student will be taking the place of a teacher who has an associated team in that grade. That team will be taken as having defaulted that round.

10.4  Teams may, use a past pupil with debating experience as a coach for rostered duties. This may include first year university students who return to coach teams and undertake to fulfil the rostered duties for that team. This is subject to obtaining the Committee’s consent.  Teams wishing to use a past pupil must notify the Committee in advance of the first round and outline that person’s debating experience.

10.5  The number of debates to be judged by each coach will be shared as equally as possible but inequalities will be unavoidable because of:

10.5.1   The differing number of teams that each coach is attached to;

10.5.2   The odd number of rounds in the competition;

10.5.3   The need for independent adjudicators in zones with a large number of teams from a small number of schools.

10.6  No coach will judge a debate involving his or her own team, or a debate in a grade higher than that of his or her own team.

10.7  No coach shall judge a team from his or her own school, except where both teams are from that school and neither team is directly coached by that person.

10.8  Schools shall supply the same number of judges as they have teams entered in each of the Junior and Senior grades.  Where one teacher is responsible for coaching more than one team across the Junior and Senior Open grades, that teacher will bear the judging responsibilities for each of those teams.  This means they will need to judge more debates than a teacher that is simply responsible for one team.

10.9  Judges shall be chosen from the contact list of coaches in each grade, and their names and schools will be published with the draw. Schools may nominate replacement judges for some coaches, if they wish.

10.10  Coaches who are unable to judge a debate, for any reason, must find a replacement and advise the Committee.

10.11  The responsibility for finding a replacement is the coach’s, in the first instance, and ultimately, the debating co-ordinator’s at the school involved.

10.12  Subject to rule 10.4 a replacement judge must be a teacher in charge of debating or a coach of a debating team at a school which is a member of ASD.

10.13  ASD encourages coaches who are new to adjudication, to team up with a colleague from the same school and adjudicate together, rather than find a replacement, if possible.

Coaches who do this must ensure that the same decision is reached and submit only one mark sheet.

10.14  There are no draws in debating: one team must win and the other must lose.

10.15  Advanced Open, Advanced Premier and Junior Premier grade debates shall be judged by outside adjudicators.

10.16  The Semi Final and Grand Final of each grade shall be adjudicated by three adjudicators. Before the adjudicators may retire to prepare the delivery of their adjudication, each adjudicator shall pass their decisions as to the winning team, to the Chairperson.

10.17  All debates in the Octo, Quarter, Semi, and Grand Finals for each gradewill be adjudicated by external adjudicators.


11.1  Adjudicators must fill in and return the mark sheet. Marksheets will be collected by ASD in case they are needed to resolve any issues or disputes. Team coaches may request a copy from the Committee, if wished.


12.1  The highest ranking teams from each grade will be selected by the Committee at the end of the preliminary rounds for that grade. This ranking will be determined in the Junior and Senior Open grades by:

12.1.1   The number of debates won by teams and then within those groups by;

12.1.2   Whether equally ranked teams have debated each other (‘who beat who) and then by;

12.1.3   The draw strength of teams and then by;

12.1.4   Whether equally ranked teams have debated each other (‘who beat who) and then by;

12.1.5   Coin toss.

12.2 The ranking will be determined in the Advanced and Premier grades by:

12.2.1 The number of debates won by teams and then within those groups by;

12.2.2 Whether equally ranked teams have debated each other (‘who beat who) and then by;

12.2.3 Speaker points and then by;

12.2.4 Whether equally ranked teams have debated each other (‘who beat who) and then by;

12.2.5 The draw strength of the teams and then by;

12.2.6 Whether equally ranked teams have debated each other (‘who beat who) and then by;

12.2.7 Coin toss.

NOTE: ‘Who beat who’ is a more conclusive decider than draw strength but where there are more than two teams ranked equally it only works if ALL teams can form a chain (I.e. ‘Team A beat Team B beat Team C’).

For that reason, if the first round of ‘who beat who’ is inconclusive, groups of teams on equal wins will be ranked by draw strength and ‘who beat who’ will be applied to these smaller groups.

12.3  All schools entered in that grade shall be sent a list of the names of breaking teams.

12.4  The break rounds for each grade shall be contested on a knock-out basis.

12.5  The Octo, Quarter, Semi, and Grand Final of each grade shall be held at a time and venue arranged by the ASD debating committee. The topic, chairperson and adjudicator(s) for an Octo, Quarter, Semi and Grand Final shall be approved by the debating committee.



13.1  Minor complaints and queries may be dealt with by an individual Committee member.

13.2  Where a team is unhappy with the decision the Committee member that decision may be formally appealed to the full Committee.

13.3  Where a team specifically requests it, or where the Committee feels appropriate, complaints will be considered by the full Committee in the first instance.

13.4  Where teams are unhappy with the quality of the adjudication they may complain to the Committee. The Committee will consider whether that adjudicator will be used again or whether disciplinary measures need to be taken.

13.5  The Committee WILL NOT, however, overturn an adjudicator’s decision where there are complaints about the substance or quality of the decision.

13.6  The Committee MAY, in exceptionally rare circumstances, overturn the adjudicator’s decision where there has been a serious breach of the rules.

13.7  For the purposes of Rule 13.6 a serious breach may include:

13.7.1   Using a speaker from a higher grade in the debate;

13.7.2   Using a cell phone or laptop or any other communication device in the preparation room.

13.8  For the purposes of Rule 13.6 a serious breach would not include:

13.8.1   Speaking over the time limit;

13.8.2   Offering a point of information out of order.

13.9  Whether the Committee orders a rematch of a debate is entirely at their discretion.


14.1  Fair play and courtesy are expected during debates.

14.2  Arguments must be directed towards the moot and not the individual. Personal abuse, constant interjections, audible comments, derisive laughter, body language such as head shaking and hand gestures, and loud complaints or grumbling about a decision, are all unacceptable from both the students debating and members of the audience.

14.3  Fair play also means avoiding truisms and squirrelling.

14.3.1   A truism is a topic or motion which is defined in such a way that it is incapable of rebuttal, or there is no reasonable way to rebut it.

14.3.2   Squirrelling is defining the topic or motion or moot in an unreasonable manner, or in a manner that a reasonable person could not have foreseen. The definition proposed by the affirmative team should have a clear and logical link to the motion.

14.4  A breach of these rules will not automatically result in losing the debate, but may affect the decision through diminishing the persuasiveness of a team’s arguments.

14.5  Team members are representing their schools and dress and behaviour are expected to be exemplary.

14.6  Cell phones should be switched off before the start of debate.