Italy will face Namibia in a Pool B match on 22 September at Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka Prefecture, Higashiosaka City. Kickoff is at 14:15 local (01:15 ET). The match may be viewed on NBC Sports Gold live or on-demand as part of an RWC subscription package.
Sergio Parisse will start his record-equaling fifth Rugby World Cup against Namibia. The 36-year-old backrower will join former team-mate Mauro Bergamasco and Brian Lima, an ex-Samoa midfielder, as the only players to compete in five Rugby World Cups.
Parisse will earn his 141st cap, which ties him with Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll in second place on the all-time list. This is seven caps behind former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw’s record for most international appearances.
It has not been a good test year for Italy, who have lost 8 of 9 matches during 2019. Their only win was against 20th ranked Russia. The 14th ranked Italy will be the favorites against 23rd ranked Namibia, who have lost all 19 matches at the Rugby World Cup. They are the lowest-ranked team at the RWC.
The match is expected to be humid with rain likely in the forecast. This would result in Italy relying on their forwards to dominate Namibia at the breakdown and at set-pieces.
Italy Head Coach Conor O’Shea has made nine changes to the starting line-up which lost 37-0 to England on September 6 for the match against Namibia. Italy will face Canada on 26 September and will need to gain wins against both teams if they hope to qualify for the RWC in 2023. To gain the Quarterfinals, the team would also need to beat either South Africa or New Zealand.
Namibia Head Coach Phil Davies has named lock Tjiuee Uanivi as the team’s captain, with Johan Deysel missing out.
Scrum-half Eugene Jantjies will play in his fourth Rugby World Cup should he come off the bench and extend the Welwitschias’ all-time appearances record to 67. Rohan Kitshoff, PJ Van Lill and Darryl De La Harpe are starting and will be appearing in a third World Cup.
Thirteen players in Namibia’s match-day 23 were on their match-day squad for their final match of the 2015 World Cup match against Argentina.
Cliven Loubser has 167 test points, which ranks him fourth in Namibia test history behind Theuns Kotzé (430), Jaco Coetzee (335) and Chrysander Botha (215).
Lesley Klim will have a fitness test on Saturday morning for a calf injury. If he does not pass that, PJ Walters will replace him.
Following the match against Namibia, they will face South Africa on 28 September.
Italy: 1 Andrea Lovotti 2 Luca Bigi 3 Tiziano Pasquali 4 Alessandro Zanni 5 Federico Ruzza 6 Braam Steyn 7 Maxime Mbanda 8 Sergio Parisse (C) 9 Tito Tebaldi 10 Tommaso Allan 11 Edoardo Padovani 12 Luca Morisi 13 Tomasso Benvienuti 14 Mattia Bellini 15 Jayden Hayward 16 Oliviero Fabiani 17 Simone Ferrari 18 Riccioni 19 Dean Budd 20 Jake Polledri 21 Guglielmo Palazzani 22 Carlo Canna 23 Matteo Minozzi
Namibia: 1 Andre Rademeyer 2 Torsten George Van Jaarsveld 3 Johannes Coetzee 4 PJ Van Lill 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (capt.) 6 Rohan Kitshoff 7 Wian Conradie 8 Janco Venter 9 Damian Stevens 10 Cliven Loubser 11 JC Greyling 12 Darryl De La Harpe 13 Justin Newman 14 Chad Plato 15 Johan Tromp 16 Louis van der Westhuizen 17 AJ De Klerk 18 Nelius Theron 19 Johan Retief 20 Max Katjijeko 21 Eugene Jantjies 22 Helarius Axasman Kisting 23 Lesley Klim
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia) Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Frederico Anselmi (Argentina) TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)