Italian astronaut to watch Rugby World Cup match from space

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano will be cheering on his team from space when they take on South Africa in their pivotal Rugby World Cup clash.

Parmitano will be watching Friday's Pool B match from the International Space Station as it orbits some 400 kilometres above the earth.

Italy are looking to upset the Springboks and reach the knockout stages for the first time.

Parmitano, who has been in space since July, had a message for the Italian team.

"You are a team and have to work all together to reach your goal, which is that of winning," he said in a video posted by the Italian Rugby Federation.

"We too on board of the International Space Station are a team, an international team of astronauts working for one goal, which is that of science, technology and space exploration.

"We too do a lot of exercise, perhaps not as much as you do, but we are very close to your world and we want you to know it by saying good luck for the next match. May the best team win"

Italy captain Sergio Parisse responded: "We know this is the first time a Rugby World Cup will be transmitted over in space.

"We are fortunate to have an Italian fan over there so, we hope to give you a nice present. Thanks for your support."

It is not the first time Parmitano has broken new ground in space.

In August, he became the first person to DJ in space when he played a set from the ISS for a club in Ibiza.