Tonight the Rugby World Cup will reach dizzying new heights - in outer space.

A rugby-mad Italian astronaut onboard the International Space Station will watch his beloved Azzurri take on South Africa thanks to a special broadcast beaming footage to the stars.

Luca Parmitano, currently orbiting about 400 kilometres above Japan, will be able to watch the match live, in what would be the first match broadcast into space.

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The International Space Station commander likened the qualities of a good rugby team to those required to run a space mission, he told Rugby World Cup.

"Just like you have to work together to achieve a try, we onboard 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 onboard 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."

Italian captain Sergio Parisse. Photo / Getty Images
Italian captain Sergio Parisse. Photo / Getty Images

Meanwhile, Italian captain Sergio Parisse would appear in his 142nd test appearance to become the second most capped player of all time.

"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," Parisse said.

"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."

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Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw played 148 matches for the men in black.