Tokyo - The Rugby World Cup will have its first extra-terrestrial broadcast when South Africa's game against Italy is beamed to the International Space Station - 408 kilometres (253 miles) above Japan, organisers said on Thursday.

Governing body World Rugby is providing a special feed of Friday's game for Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, a big rugby fan who this week took charge of the space station.

"Rugby is a fantastic game that celebrates friendship and teamwork," the European Space Agency astronaut said in a statement.

"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."

The match is vital for both sides, with Italy top of Pool B and South Africa unable to afford any slip-ups if they want to reach the quarter-finals.

"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," said Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

Friday's match in Shizuoka is scheduled for 11:45 (SA time).


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn


15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12  Jayden Hayward, 11 Michele Campagnaro, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Dean Budd, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti

Substitutes: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Sebastian Negri, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Carlo Canna