Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) president Giancarlo Dondi believes Italian rugby was given a big fillip by the national side’s performances in the Six Nations Championship.
Once again the Azzurri finished bottom of the table with only a draw in Wales preventing a clean sweep of defeats, but this year the Italians were competitive in all five matches.
Dondi praised the role of French coach Pierre Berbizier in turning around the fortunes of the youngest members of the Six Nations Championship.
Dondi said: "We did improve a lot especially after we appointed Pierre Berbizier, which really took us to another dimension.
"OK, we didn’t win a game in this Six Nations season but we really played some good rugby and the response of the press and fans towards us has been more than positive.
"Certainly we didn’t take the chance to win games against Wales, Scotland and especially against Ireland, but I didn’t see any large score against us and against big teams like England and the first half in France we really showed great organisation and if we kept more focused maybe we could have got the result as well.
"But we still had a great tournament and we are proud of ourselves."
Dondi repeated his threat to move Italy’s Six Nations base away from Rome unless the Stadio Flaminio is upgraded.
"Certainly we are looking forward to improve things next year when we must get the points we missed in this tournament," said Dondi.
"But first the Rome council most improve things in the Stadio Flaminio.
"They must meet and satisfy our request or for sure the next Six Nations Championship, Italy will play away from Rome."