Rugby World Cup 2019: Astronaut Luca Parmitano to watch Springboks v Italy match from space

The Rugby World Cup will have its first extra-terrestrial broadcast, when Italy's game against South Africa is beamed to the International Space Station (ISS).

World Rugby is providing a special feed of the Pool B encounter for European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, a massive Italian rugby fan, who has taken over command of the ISS this week.

Azzuri skipper Sergio Parisse has exchanged messages with Parmitano, who will be floating 408kms above Japan when the match gets underway. 

"Rugby is a fantastic game that celebrates friendship and teamwork," Parmitano said in a message directed to Parisse.

"Just like you have to work together to achieve a try, we on board the ISS have to collaborate with a team of astronauts and ground personnel from all over the world in order to achieve our objective - 'our try' - which is space exploration, technology and science.

"Celebrating sport, your sport of community, teamwork and competition in the name of sportsmanship - we on board the station cooperate together to look for a better world.

"Taking into consideration all the common factors that link our two worlds, I wish to wish you good luck for this championship and this important match."

Parmitano has broken new ground in space before.

In August, he became the first person to DJ in space, when he played a set from the ISS for a club in Ibiza. He is also the first Italian astronaut to command the space station. 

Parisse will play his 142nd test against South Africa, making him the second-most capped player of all-time, behind former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Italy are currently top of their pool and a win would be huge, as they look to qualify for the quarter-finals. 

"It is an incredible feeling to know that the test match on Friday will reach the space station," said Parisse. "Rugby and Rugby World Cup truly are without borders.

"It is the first time that a Rugby World Cup match is being shown in space and we are lucky to have an Italian supporter up there. 

"We hope to be able to share the joy with you and hope to gift you some beautiful emotions."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us at 10:45pm Friday for live updates of the South Africa v Italy Rugby World Cup clash