Italy versus South Africa to be first Rugby World Cup game broadcast in space

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse has exchanged messages with astronaut Luca Parmitano after World Rugby arranged for the keen Azzurri supporter to have a live feed of Friday’s World Cup clash with South Africa beamed up to the International Space Station.

European Space Agency astronaut Parmitano has taken over command of the ISS this week but despite floating more than 250 miles above Japan, he will be able to watch his compatriots take on the Spingboks thanks to the tournament organisers.

In what will be the first Rugby World Cup match broadcast in space, World Rugby is providing a special feed for Parmitano so he can see Conor O’Shea’s men in action.

“Rugby is a fantastic game that celebrates friendship and teamwork,” said the astronaut in a message directed to Italy number 8 Parisse. “Just like you have to work together to achieve a try, we on board the International Space Station 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 again good luck for this championship and this important match!”

Italy currently top Pool B and captain Parisse, who will be making his 142nd Test appearance against South Africa to become the second most capped player of all time behind Richie McCaw, plans to shoot for the stars as his side target an upset win against the Boks.

Parisse – who is due to retire after this year’s tournament – replied to Parmitano: “It is an incredible feeling to know that the Test match on Friday will reach the space station – 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.”