Italy may be one game away from the wooden spoon in the RBS 6 Nations but at least things are looking up in terms of popular support for the Azzurri - so much so they may need to find a larger stadium.
On Wednesday, the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) confirmed the Stadio Flaminio had sold out for the third time this season after previous full capacities in the games with Ireland and Wales.
That is in marked contrast to previous campaigns where the compact stadium - capacity 24,593 - had failed to reach capacity, with often more than half the supporters backing the visiting team.
Italian Rugby Federation president Giancarlo Dondi told www.federugby.it: "The third sell-out of the Flaminio for the 2005 season demonstrates two important things.
"The first is that the 25,000 capacity at the Flaminio is insufficient to satisfy the appetite for rugby in Italy.
"The second is that the growth in enthusiasm for rugby in Italy is not linked to the results of the national team but to the ethics and values the sport offers."
In Italy, where football hooliganism is rife, the reputation rugby has established for being trouble-free has been one of its biggest selling points since it joined the former Five Nations in 2000.
The new desire shown by Italian fans to turn up at the Flaminio is different to the situation in previous seasons.
Two years ago, the federation studied the possibility of playing in the northern city of Genoa, which has attracted crowds of more than 30,000 for November Test matches and is closer to most of the top Italian clubs which are mainly based in the north.
The only stadium in Rome that has a bigger capacity than the Flaminio is the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, which staged the 1960 summer Olympic games and is home to the Roma and Lazio football teams.
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